East-West vulnerable

NORTH (D)

(S) Q 5 3

(H) A J 5

(D) K 9 7 6 3

(C) K 8

WEST

(S) J 10 8 4

(H) 3

(D) Q J 4

(C) J 10 6 5 4

EAST

(S) A K 9 7 6 2

(H) 6 2

(D) 10 2

(C) A Q 3

SOUTH

(S) None

(H) K Q 10 9 8 7 4

(D) A 8 5

(C) 9 7 2

The bidding:

North East South West

1 (D) 1 (S) 2 (H) 2 (S)

3 (H) 4 (S) 5 (H) All Pass

Opening lead -- (S) J

"Avoidance" is the technique of preventing a dangerous defender from getting the lead. Look at today's diagram: which defender can endanger your contract if he gets in?

You can hope for 11 tricks by setting up the diamonds; but if East has the ace of clubs (as is likely from the bidding), a club lead through dummy's king will ruin you. Hence you want to set up the diamonds without letting West in.

The actual South ruffed the first spade, drew trumps and led the ace, king and a low diamond. This play failed when West won and led a club. Can you do better?

Since you have a sure diamond loser, your best chance is to pitch your loser on a trick East wins. Cover the jack of spades with dummy's queen at Trick One; and when East plays the king, discard a diamond.

If East leads another spade, you ruff, draw trumps, take the top diamonds and ruff a diamond. You can then return with a trump to throw two clubs on the good diamonds, losing a club and a spade.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: (S) Q 5 3 (H) A J 5 (D) K 9 7 6 3 (C) K 8. Your partner opens one spade, you respond two diamonds and he then bids two hearts. The opponents pass. What do you say?

ANSWER: Your first response promised at least ten points; hence a bid of two spades now would invite game. Since you have enough strength to insist on game, bid three spades, forcing. A jump to four spades would promise very strong spades and diamonds and mild slam interest.

(C) 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate