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Do you ever get the feeling, after a seemingly interminable string of bad hands at rubber bridge, that you have to do something (anything!) to break the monotony? I know I do, which can be the only alibi I have for opening the bidding with the South hand on this deal.

As South, I must confess, I opened One Spade, North forced to game with Three Clubs, and I showed my powerful heart suit. It was very tempting to pass North's preference to Three Spades but, as his hand was completely unlimited, I dutifully toiled on with Four Spades.

North could not take a joke, however, and persisted with Blackwood. Again I was tempted to back-pedal by denying an ace, but I was honest and we ended in a gruesome Six Spades. Serves me right, but matters improved after a trump lead.

I won East's queen with the ace and followed with the ace and another diamond. West won and led a second trump to dummy's king. Next came the ace of clubs and a club ruff, the losing diamond was ruffed on the table, and I trumped another club.

This had a dual effect: I got to hand to draw the last trump, and it left East in sole control of the clubs. Now the jack of spades finished the poor fellow who was left with the choice of unguarding hearts or discarding his winning club.

"Well played!" said my partner, but he forebore from commenting on my bidding...

EAST-WEST GAME: Dealer South


] K 7 4

_ A Q 6

+ A 5

[ A 5 4 3 2

West East

] 10 9 2 ] Q 5

_ 10 4 _ J 9 8 3

+ K J 9 8 2 + Q 10 7

[ Q 9 8 [ K J 10 6


] A J 8 6 3

_ K 7 5 2

+ 6 4 3

[ 7