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Cy the Cynic gave me a ride to the club. At a red light, we stopped behind a car that bore this bumper sticker:

“If you can read this … I’m not impressed. Most people can read.”

Reading the cards — drawing logical inferences from the bidding and play — is known as a mark of an expert declarer. In fact, most “expert” card-placing is simple in principle.

I watched Cy play today’s slam in a penny game. After a little thought, West led the deuce of clubs, and Cy played low from dummy and captured East’s nine with the jack. Cy next led a heart to dummy’s king and tried a heart to his jack. West won and led a second club to dummy.

Cy then led a heart to his ace. He cashed the A-K of spades, and both defenders played low. Cy then took the ace of clubs, pitching a diamond from dummy. He led a diamond to the king and cashed two hearts, discarding spades.

With two tricks to go, dummy had the jack of spades and a diamond. The Cynic had the A-J of diamonds. West had kept the queen of spades and the bare queen of diamonds. At Trick 12, Cy led the diamond from dummy, thought forever … and finessed with the jack. Down two.

Should Cy have known better?

Good defenders generally prefer a passive opening lead against 6NT, but West had led a dangerous club from Q-x-x-x. West would not have led a heart from Q-9-x, but if he had a worthless holding in spades or diamonds, he would have led that suit.

Cy should put up his ace of diamonds at the end. He should read West for all four missing queens to explain the opening lead.

South dealer

N-S vulnerable


S J 4 2

H K 8 7 5 4

D K 5 3

C K 6


S Q 7 6

H Q 9 2

D Q 8 4

C Q 7 4 2


S 10 8 5

H 10 6

D 10 9 7 2

C 10 9 5 3


S A K 9 3

H A J 3

D A J 6

C A J 8

South West North East
2 NT Pass 6 NT All Pass

Opening lead — C 2

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