One member of our club works at a car dealership. "When's the best time to buy a new car?" I asked.

"Last year," was the reply.

The time to take precautions is before you're in the soup -- and South didn't. He ruffed the third diamond and took the A-Q of trumps, keeping the K-10 in case East had J-x-x-x.

When East threw a club, South returned a trump to the king and started the clubs, hoping for heart discards before West ruffed. (South couldn't concede a trump since West would cash a diamond.) When West ruffed the second club and led a diamond, South lost two hearts: down two.

Before you read on, decide how you'd take precautions as South.

DRAWS TRUMPS

South can start the trumps with the ace and king. If both defenders follow, South draws the last trump and claims the rest.

When East discards on the second trump, South starts the clubs. When West ruffs, South can win the return, draw West's last trump with the queen and finish the clubs for ten tricks.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S Q 3 2 H 7 5 4 D K 5 2 C A K J 4. Your partner opens one heart, you respond 2NT and he rebids three hearts. The opponents pass. What do you say?

ANSWER: Your bid of 2NT was forcing to game; you promised 13 to 15 points, balanced distribution and stoppers in each unbid suit. If you bid 3NT now, you've retold the same story. Your partner has a distributional hand and may have a singleton spade or diamond. Bid four hearts.

South dealer

Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

S Q 3 2

H 7 5 4

D K 5 2

C A K J 4

WEST

S J 9 8 4

H Q 9 8 3

D Q J 10 4

C 9

EAST

S 6

H J 10

D A 9 8 7

C 10 8 7 6 3 2

SOUTH

S A K 10 7 5

H A K 6 2

D 6 3

C Q 5

South West North East

1 S Pass 2 C Pass

2 H Pass 3 S Pass

4 S All Pass

Opening lead -- D Q