John F. Kennedy claimed: “The ancient Greek definition of happiness was the full use of your powers along lines of excellence.”

For a bridge player, thinking along lines of excellence is obviously important. If you don’t think of the right bid or play, you will not make it.

In today’s deal, South was in three no-trump. How should he have planned the play after West led a low diamond?

South saw eight top tricks: one spade, four diamonds (given the lead) and three clubs. Life looked simple — a 3-2 club split (or a singleton jack), and there would be at least two overtricks in the future. So, declarer won with his diamond 10, cashed the club king and continued with the club 10. West’s diamond discard was a blow. South conceded this trick, then things got even worse when East switched to the heart jack. South covered with the queen (ducking wouldn’t have helped), and West won with the ace and returned the heart three to East’s king. Now the heart two back left West with the nine-seven hovering over South’s eight-five. The defenders took one club and four hearts.

The key point for South was that if West were on lead, the defenders could never have cashed four heart tricks. So, declarer should have called for dummy’s diamond queen at trick one and continued with a club to his 10. Here, it would have won, and South would have raked in at least 10 tricks. But even if West had held the club jack, the contract would have been safe.

Beware accepting Greek gifts.