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A club player came to me for commiseration.

“My partner is a good analyst,” he said, “but short on empathy. He not only puts a finger on my faults, he rubs it in.”

My friend was declarer at 3NT. When West led a heart, East took the ace and returned the queen.

“I took my king,” South said, “and cashed the high clubs, hoping for a 3-3 break. When West discarded, I ran the spades and next led a diamond. East claimed for down one.

“My partner rubbed it in. He said I was wrong to jump to 3NT with only one heart trick and no aces; East was sure to have a fast entry to the hearts.”

Even if South had bid only 2NT, North-South would have reached game. If North was going to be critical, he could have cited South’s play. After South takes the king of hearts, he must run the spades.

East can pitch a diamond and a heart but is stuck on the fourth spade. If he throws a second heart, South can safely force out the ace of diamonds, losing only three hearts besides.

You hold: ´ A Q 9 7 ™ J © Q J 8 5 ® A Q 7 3. Your partner opens one heart, you bid one spade and he jumps to 2NT. What do you say?

A: Partner promises 18 to 20 points (depending on your range for 1NT and 2NT opening bids) with balanced pattern. Your 16 points will surely produce a small slam, hence bid 6NT. If partner has the right maximum hand, he may take 13 tricks. But to bid a speculative grand slam, risking the loss of the small-slam bonus, would be unwise.

North dealer

N-S vulnerable

NORTH

´ A Q 9 7

™ J

© Q J 8 5

® A Q 7 3

WEST EAST

´ 8 6 4 3 2 ´ 5

™ 5 4 ™ A Q 10 9 6 2

© 6 4 3 2 © A 7

® 6 5 ® J 10 9 8

SOUTH

´ K J 10

™ K 8 7 3

© K 10 9

® K 4 2

North East South West

1 © 1 ™ 3 NT All Pass

Opening lead – ™ 5