By Alfred Sheinwold and Frank Stewart LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

«I’m so unlucky,» today’s declarer mourned after losing his game, «that I could make a mistake playing to Trick 13.»

«Play the first trick properly,» North replied, «and you won’t have to worry about the others.»

South dealer North-South vulnerable

Lead: 7

South played low from dummy on the first spade, and East put up the king. South saw he could assure two spade tricks by winning, and he knew that a holdup play is usually wrong when it costs a trick in the suit; hence he took the ace of spades.

Spades prevail

South next led a diamond. East took the ace and returned his remaining spade, and West won with the queen and continued spades to force out the jack. When West took the king of diamonds, he cashed two more spades to defeat the contract. South erred at the first trick; he should play low, and play low again when East returns a spade. West wins with the queen, but since he has only one side entry, he can’t set up and run the spades. The defenders can get only two spades and the A-K of diamonds.

Daily Question You hold:  K6  J 10 7 6 5  A 2 10 8 7 6.

Your partner opens one spade, you respond 1NT, and he next bids two hearts. The opponents pass. What do you say?

Answer: Your hand has improved. You have a valuable king, a side ace, and a fifth heart; part-ner is a favorite to make game if he holds only five spades to the ace and four hearts to the A-K. To bid less than four hearts would be cowardly.