"I was sure that West must hold the ace of trumps for his opening bid," spluttered South after going down in Four Hearts on this deal from a recent tournament. Ah, but he had forgotten the sort of tram tickets regarded as an opening nowadays.

West opened One Spade. ("I was far too good for a Weak Two," he explained later - yet in the old days, the poor quality of his spades would have been regarded as inadequate even for that!). North doubled, and South's response of Four Hearts was passed out.

West started with the ace and another diamond against the heart game. He was obviously playing for a ruff but, seeing no problems ahead, declarer won and started on trumps. To his consternation, it was East who turned up with the ace, and the diamond ruff duly materialised. West had a peaceful club exit available and, when unsurprisingly the spade finesse failed, declarer ended with only nine tricks.

While South expostulated about his opponents' bidding style, North was more analytical. His suggestion is worth noting. Instead of tackling trumps immediately, it could hardly have done any harm to cash dummy's top clubs and ruff a club high in hand. Then, when trumps are led and East unexpectedly turns up with the ace and gives his partner the diamond ruff, West is left with nothing but spades in his hand and so never makes a trick with his 4K. All this depends, of course, on finding West with precisely a 6-2-2-3 distribution, but it would have been a "cost-nothing" precaution.