Seth Shostak, who is the senior astronomer and director at the Center for SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) Research, said, “The moon stabilizes Earth’s obliquity. Well, almost. The tilt actually varies between 22 and 24.5 degrees – and the variation is enough to induce such environmental inconveniences as the occasional ice age. Without the moon, it might be much worse.”

For the last eight columns, we have been looking at New Minor Forcing. Here is one final example, more for the play than the bidding. What should South do in six diamonds after West leads the club king and shifts to his singleton spade? Does it make a difference if West initially leads his spade?

This was a tough sequence to an almost-laydown slam. Note that South cannot bid three no-trump over three diamonds without a club stopper.

South starts with seven side-suit winners: four spades and three hearts. So, if he can take five diamond tricks, he will be up to 12. He does not need a favorable major-suit split.

Declarer wins trick two, plays a trump to his hand, ruffs a club on the board, draws trumps, and claims.

If West leads a spade, South draws two rounds of trumps to see the bad break. Then, here he must switch to hearts, ruffing the fourth high in the dummy. After

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