“The more I play,” a club player grum­bled, “the more I’m sure one of those Mur­phy’s Law corol­lar­ies is true: ‘If an ac­tion has a 50 per­cent chance of work­ing, it will fail 75 per­cent of the time.’ ”

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He had been de­clarer at four hearts. When West over­called in di­a­monds, North’s cue bid sub­sti­tuted for the Stay­man con­ven­tion. West cashed two di­a­monds and led a trump, and South drew trumps. He next took the ace of spades and led to dummy’s jack. East won and led a club, and South’s fi­nesse with the queen lost. Down one.

“Both fi­nesses were 50-50 to win,” South sighed. “One would win three times out of four.”

South didn’t need to fi­nesse in spades. On the sec­ond spade, he must play the dummy’s king. Say East plays low, and West wins the next spade. A fi­nesse would have won, but South still makes game be­cause West is end-played: He must lead a club from his king or con­cede a ruff-sluff.

As the cards lie, South suc­ceeds when the queen of spades falls from East.

Daily Ques­tion: You hold: & 1085 h 8 5 ( AK9752 $ K 8. Your part­ner opens 1NT, and the next player passes. What do you say?

An­swer: This is an el­e­men­tary prob­lem that bears re­peat­ing from time to time. Raise to 3NT. Your pat­tern is al­most bal­anced, and your di­a­mond suit should pro­duce tricks at notrump. Once in a great while, your part­ner will go down at 3NT when your side could have made five di­a­monds, but the cheaper nine-trick game will suc­ceed far more of­ten.

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