"It would be nice," Cy the Cynic told me, "if a woman made up her mind as easily as her face."

"Did Wendy put you in the unknown again?" I asked. Cy, a shameless chauvinist, and Wendy, my club's feminist, are fierce adversaries.

"We cut as partners in a Chicago game," Cy said. "As South, I opened one club and raised Wendy's 2NT response to 3NT. When she bid four clubs next, it sounded like an 'I can't make up my mind' bid. I had no idea what she was doing - which wasn't unusual - but I bid five clubs. And she bid slam."

"Did you make it?" I asked.

"I knew I'd better," Cy growled. "I won the first diamond in dummy, drew trumps and cashed two more diamonds. I next led a low spade and played the jack from dummy when West followed low.

"When East won with the king, he had to make a helpful return. If he'd had a diamond and led it, he'd have conceded a ruff-sluff, and a heart would have given me a free finesse. He actually led a spade, and when my eight forced out the queen from West, I claimed. If instead West had played the nine of spades, I'd take the ace and run my trumps. At the end, I'd probably try a finesse with the jack of hearts for my 12th trick."

"Nicely played," I said - and it had been. Cy gave himself the best chance.

Many experts would bid the North hand as Wendy did. Her 2NT followed by four clubs showed slam interest: a balanced hand with club support, slightly too strong for a natural response of 3NT.