“My stress level is too high,” Unlucky Louie told me. “Life is hectic: family duties, business matters and my usual number of losing finesses.”

“To stay healthy, slow down,” I advised. “It’s better to be patient than to become one.”

Louie was today’s declarer, and West led three high spades. Louie ruffed and took dummy’s K-Q-J of trumps. On the second trump West pitched a diamond. Louie then led a diamond to his hand and drew East’s last trump. He cashed three more diamonds, but West won the last two tricks with the ace of clubs and a spade. Down one.

“I gotta leave,” Louie said. “I should have been somewhere else 10 minutes ago.”

Louie was in too much of a hurry. He needs a club trick to make his game and should lead his five of clubs at Trick Four.

West could (and should) beat four hearts by taking the ace to lead a fourth spade. But if West plays low, dummy’s queen wins, and Louie can draw trumps and take his diamond tricks to make the contract.

You hold: ´ 9 5 ™ A 7 6 5 2 © A K Q 7 ® K 5. You open one heart, your partner responds one spade, you bid two diamonds and he returns to two hearts. What do you say?

A: Partner has at most nine points with a doubleton heart. With six to nine points and true heart support, he would have raised directly to two hearts. You have extra strength, but the poor hearts and lack of a spade honor are discouraging. Pass. Game is not worth pursuing.

West dealer

Both sides vulnerable


´ J 8 4

™ K Q J

© J 10 4

® Q 7 6 2


´ A K Q 6 3 ´ 10 7 2

™ 4 ™ 10 9 8 3

© 8 6 3 2 © 9 5

® A J 10 ® 9 8 4 3


´ 9 5

™ A 7 6 5 2

© A K Q 7

® K 5

West North East South

1 ´ Pass Pass Dbl

Pass 2 ® Pass 2 ™

Pass 4 ™ All Pass

Opening lead – ´ K