"Avoidance" is a theme that's found in any good book on play and often turned up in "Par" contests with prepared deals. Today's deal is from the Intercollegiate Par event (which, alas, has gone wherever Par events go to die).

South takes the queen of spades and knows West lurks behind the king with the A-10 and a few more spades. South may suspect that West, who opened the bidding, has the queen of hearts; but South can't afford to finesse in hearts through West: if East won, terrible things would happen.

South can make a "halfhearted" attempt at avoidance by leading a heart to the ace and returning the jack to finesse; but when West shows out, East is sure to get in with the queen.

South must instead lead a club to dummy and return the jack of hearts for a first-round finesse. He continues with the ten and king and then gets back to dummy with a club for the ace and nine. South still has the ace of clubs and the ace of diamonds to make an overtrick.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S A J 10 7 2 H 7 D K Q 10 2 C J 10 7. You pass as dealer (some players would open), the next player passes and your partner opens one diamond. The next player passes. What do you say?

ANSWER:

Partner's opening bid improves your hand; it's worth at least 14 points in support of diamonds. Jump to two spades. You suggest diamond support as well as spades; hence a good partner won't pass unless he opened in third seat with very light values.

Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

S 8 4

H A J 10 9 5

D A 6 3

C K Q 8

WEST

S A J 10 7 2

H 7

D K Q 10 2

C J 10 7

EAST

S 6 5 3

H Q 8 6 2

D J 7

C 6 5 4 2

SOUTH

S K Q 9

H K 4 3

D 9 8 5 4

C A 9 3

West North East South

1 S Dbl Pass 2 NT

Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening lead -- S J

(C) 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate