Unlucky Louie showed up for his penny game with a sore throat and a raspy voice.

"Why are you hoarse?" Rose asked him.

"When we trimmed our tree," Louie croaked, "I accidentally swallowed some of the decorations."

"Clearly," Cy the Cynic offered, "he has tinselitis."

"I'll bet it's been rowdy and loud at your house over Christmas," I said soothingly. I knew Louie's flock of children and grandkids had been there.

"Actually, it was a Christmas miracle," Louie said. "We went three days without any arguments."

When the game began, alas, Louie didn't make it past the first deal without an argument. Louie and Cy were East-West, and Cy led the 10 of diamonds against four spades. Dummy played low, and Louie took the queen and shifted to the jack of hearts. South won and let the queen of trumps ride. Louie took the king and led another heart.

South won, drew trumps, and led a diamond to the ace and a diamond back. Louie took his king, and South claimed; he could pitch a club from dummy on the high jack of diamonds.

"You blew it," Cy growled at Louie.

Incapable of a vocal reply, Louie rolled his eyes as though he thought Cy was batty.

The winning defense wasn't obvious. Because Cy's opening lead is clearly the top of a doubleton, and Louie has a trump reentry, Louie must return a diamond at Trick Two. If South wins with dummy's nine and leads the ace and a second trump, Louie wins and leads a third diamond. Cy ruffs and exits safely with a heart, and declarer must lose a club for down one.