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I OCCASIONALLY play with an absent-minded partner and, as a result, the tournament director is often called to our table. An opening lead made before the bidding has finished is not too difficult to resolve, but a bid made after play has started sets more problems for the poor director. Then came this deal, which started with a simple ruling.

Playing five-card majors, North opened One Club and my partner overcalled with Four Spades. South chanced his arm with Five Hearts and all passed.

If I had led the ace of spades it would have been all over. However, bearing in mind the usual quality of partner's overcalls, I led a safe queen of clubs.

Declarer won in dummy and ran the queen of hearts successfully. The next trick puzzled South considerably for the ten of hearts went to the jack of spades, the ace of hearts, and the three of clubs. Careful recounting confirmed his impression that something had gone wrong and eventually East woke up and substituted the king of trumps. The long suffering director was called again and explained that the jack of spades was an exposed card, to be played at the first legal opportunity.

Seeking, quite legitimately, to take advantage, declarer triumphantly led the king of spades from dummy. He had led from the wrong hand but East now claimed that his exposed card was now played automatically and the lead out of turn was condoned. The re-summoned director gloomily acquiesced.

To South's horror, West produced the ace and now there were two more inescapable losers. As you can see, without East's activities, declarer would have had no choice but to lead towards the king of spades in the hope of an eleventh trick.