Cy the Cynic is Grinchingly reluctant to shop for Christmas presents. He says if people need items for next April's yard sale, they can get them without his help.

"From a commercial point of view," Cy growls, "if Santa Claus didn't exist, it would be necessary to invent him."

Cy, today's declarer, had to invent nine tricks at 3NT. After winning the first spade, he led a heart to the king. East won and returned a spade, and Cy took his queen and tried the jack and queen of hearts.

A 3-3 break would have assured the contract - Cy would have had three heart tricks and two of every other suit - but West threw a spade. Cy then let the nine of clubs ride, but West produced the queen, and the defense cashed three spades and East's ten of hearts.

Cy's play was hardly commercial. True, he gave himself an extra chance by starting the hearts first. If he led a diamond to dummy at the second trick to finesse in clubs, he would be down for sure if West had the queen. The Cynic would have only eight tricks, and a spade continuation would set up five or more for the defense.

But Cy does best to lead a diamond to dummy at Trick Two and return the three of hearts through East, who surely has the ace for his bid. If East plays low, the jack wins, and Cy attacks the clubs for four tricks in that suit plus two spades, two diamonds and one heart. If instead East grabs his ace of hearts to continue spades, Cy is sure of three heart tricks and nine in all.