Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} A 5 3

{heart} J 5

{diam} A J 9 7 6 2

{club} K Q

WEST

{spade} K J 10 8 4

{heart} K 9 6 3

{diam} 3

{club} A J 6

EAST (D)

{spade} 9 7 2

{heart} Q 8 4

{diam} Q 10 8

{club} 8 7 5 2

SOUTH

{spade} Q 6

{heart} A 10 7 2

{diam} K 5 4

{club} 10 9 4 3

The bidding:

East

Pass

Pass

Pass

South

Pass

3 {diam}

3 NT

West

1 {spade}

Pass

All Pass

North

2 {diam}

3 {spade}

Opening lead: {spade} J

"By Jove, Holmes, the man's dead!"

The lifeless body of South confirmed Dr. Watson's comment.

"You noticed, Watson," Sherlock Holmes said dryly. "It remains to learn who killed him and why. Let only us examine the last deal played at the deceased's table."

"The club steward says all four players were experts," Watson mused. "Hence West opened one spade, North bid two diamonds and South raised to three diamonds. Did North then try 3NT?"

"No," said Holmes. "An expert North wouldn't want a spade lead to come up to his hand. He'd instead cue-bid three spades. If South's spade holding is Q-x or J-x-x, he had better be declarer at 3NT."

"No doubt that is what occurred," Watson agreed, "and West led the jack of spades. South took the queen and led the K-A and a low diamond. East won and returned a spade, forcing out the ace. South had only eight tricks; and when he led a club, West won and ran the spades."

"I dare say that is what cost South his life," Holmes said. "South must lead a club at Trick Two to force out West's only possible entry before the spades are established. If West ducks, South shifts to diamonds for nine tricks; if instead West wins and leads the king of spades, South ducks, wins the third spade and attacks the diamonds. He loses the second diamond to East, who has no more spades."

"And North, enraged that his good bidding had come to naught, killed his partner! Amazing, Holmes."

"Elementary."

1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate