By Frank Stewart
Monday, March 6, 2006

A player at my club who happens to be a capable accountant asked me if I ever tossed and turned in bed from thinking about bridge deals.

"I usually count sheep," I shrugged.

"That doesn't work for me," he sighed. "The last time I tried it, I made a mistake and lay there for three hours trying to find it."

West might have lost sheep -- I mean sleep -- because of today's deal. He led a heart against 3NT, and South took East's ten with the king and started the spades. West won the second spade and shifted to the jack of diamonds ... and South made his game with four diamond tricks, four spades and a heart.


You're in for some sleepless nights if you don't count declarer's tricks on defense. To beat the contract, West must find East with an ace, but when West takes the ace of spades, he must lead the nine of clubs.

Even if South had the A-Q of clubs, he'd have only seven tricks. But if West leads a diamond and finds South with that ace, South may have nine tricks.


You hold: S K J 10 8 3 H 7 5 3 D K Q 4 C 6 5. Your partner opens one diamond, you respond one spade, he bids two clubs and you return to two diamonds. Partner then bids 2NT. The opponents pass. What do you say?

ANSWER: Your preference bid of two diamonds promised no more than nine points, hence your hand is as strong as it can be, and your partner's bid of 2NT says he's still interested in game. Raise to 3NT. Partner should bring it home easily.

West dealer

N-S vulnerable

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