John Betjeman, a former poet laureate in England, said, "Too many people in the modern world view poetry as a luxury, not a necessity like petrol. But to me it's the oil of life."

I came across this deal while rummaging through my records. South's wafer-thin opening bid suggests that it is of a modern vintage, but it was played in a tournament decades ago.

How should South play in four spades after West leads a low club?

Note that it pays to push for vulnerable games. Assuming duplicate scoring, if you can win 10 tricks in a major, you score either 170 or 620, depending on whether or not you bid the game. If you can win only nine tricks, your result is plus 140 or minus 100. If the game makes half the time, you will be, on average, 105 points per deal better off if you always bid game.

The first South rose with dummy's club king and took an immediate spade finesse. It lost, East received a club ruff, and the defenders cashed three red-suit tricks for down two.

The second declarer won with his club jack and led a diamond toward the dummy. He paid an equally heavy price. West went in with the ace and led the club eight. East ruffed and, reading the eight as a suit-preference signal, returned the heart four. West won with the ace and played a heart back to East's king. Then a third heart promoted West's spade king for down two.

The last declarer won trick one with the club jack and laid down the spade ace. Bingo -- the king appeared. South now had only three red-suit losers. Sometimes it pays to be a little lucky.

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