Wendy, my club's feminist, came over to me in the lounge after partnering Cy the Cynic in a money game. She looked exasperated, as usual.

"Let me illustrate the difference between men and women. . . . A man and a woman drive past each other on a mountain road," Wendy said. "The woman rolls down her window and yells 'Pig!' The man indignantly yells back 'Witch!' They continue on their way, and around the next curve, the man's car gets totaled - when he hits a pig in the middle of the road."

"I take it Cy let you down," I said.

Wendy had been today's East, and Cy led the jack of diamonds against South's four hearts. Wendy won the next diamond with the queen and cashed the king, and Cy threw the deuce of clubs. Wendy then shrugged and led the queen of spades, and declarer ruffed, drew trumps, and claimed.

"The Cynic insisted it was my fault," Wendy fumed. "He said he'd found the killing opening lead, and if I'd led a fourth diamond instead of a spade, he'd have scored his queen of trumps, ruffing in front of dummy.

"If I'd been West," Wendy went on, "I'd have saved him from wrecking the defense: I'd throw the ace of spades on the third diamond, giving him no option but to try leading a fourth diamond. But it never occurred to Cy to save me."

Wendy's defense was faultless. For all she knew, South had solid hearts and a losing spade. Even if your partner is an expert, prevent him from going wrong if you can.