The Mercury News Weekend - - A+E - Frank Ste­wart

“Spell­ing has odd rules,” I said to my friend the English pro­fes­sor. “What do you think of ‘I be­fore E ex­cept af­ter C’?” “It’s weird,” the prof replied. The prof and his part­ners see weird re­sults in their penny game. In to­day’s deal, de­clarer in­vei­gled them out of a game.

“I was East,” the prof said, “and South bid to a hope­less four spades. My part­ner led a heart in­stead of the king of clubs, but we still had four tricks to take. I played the queen, and South took the ace ... and led the 10!”

“My part­ner pon­dered but didn’t seize his op­por­tu­nity: He played low. He thought I might have K-Q dou­ble­ton. So South threw a club from dummy on the king of hearts and lost two clubs and a trump.”

“I fixed my part­ner with a glacier-like stare,” the prof said, “and in­veighed against his de­fense. He got feisty and said he wasn’t pre­scient. I guess nei­ther of us was at fault.” “That re­sult would’ve weighed heav­ily on me,” I said. “Con­fu­sion reigned,” the prof sighed. DAILY QUES­TION: You hold: ♠ KJ9863 ♥ A K 10 ◆ A ♣ 10 7 4. Your part­ner opens one heart. The next player passes. What do you say? AN­SWER: Slam is likely. A min­i­mum hand for part­ner such as A 4, Q J 9 7 5 3, J 6 4, A 2 will yield a fine play for 13 tricks. Jump-shift to two spades, in­tend­ing to show your heart sup­port next. Tell your part­ner im­me­di­ately that you may have a slam. If you re­spond one spade, you may have trou­ble get­ting him to co­op­er­ate in a slam hunt.

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