Cy the Cynic defines a "low bidder" as a contractor who wonders what he must have left out of his winning bid.

I watched today's deal in a Chicago game at my club. Cy was South and Unlucky Louie was North, and they left some of their values unbid. Even though Cy had passed as dealer, Louie's pass to one spade was questionable. Since many minimum South hands - for instance, K J 9 5 4, 7 5, K J 9 5 4, 6 - would offer a play for game, Louie might have continued with a normal 1NT rebid.

No doubt Louie was afraid his usual bad luck would scuttle any aggressive game contract, and in fact four spades should have had no chance at all. But fate double-crossed Louie in a big way. Against one spade, West misled in more ways than one when he started with the nine of clubs.

East, deceived, played low, and Cy took his singleton king and led the nine of diamonds. Dummy's queen won. When Cy next led a club from dummy, East put up his ace, and Cy ruffed. He crossed to the ace of hearts, threw his king of diamonds on the queen of clubs, and ruffed a diamond.

Cy next led a trump. West played the king, and there ensued a mighty crash as East's ace tumbled down. When East returned a heart, Cy played low, took West's queen with the king, cashed the queen of trumps, and claimed the rest. So Cy and Louie played one spade and made five overtricks.

"It didn't occur to me when I passed one spade that I'd miss a slam," Louie growled.

"At least we didn't lose our ace of trumps," was East's comment.