North was an overbidder -- the sort of player who'll call a spade two spades. When South bid three hearts, North should have raised to four; when North actually called three spades before supporting hearts, it sounded like slam interest to South (as it would have to me).

Alas, South was an underplayer. He took the first diamond in dummy and let the ten of trumps ride. A trump to the jack won, and South drew trumps and led a spade.

West signaled with the six; and East let dummy's king win and also refused the next spade as West played the four to show a doubleton.

Since dummy had no more entries, it wouldn't help South to force out the ace of spades. He tried the club finesse -- and went down.

South must win the first diamond with the ace and lead a spade. If East ducks (to win is no better), South next picks up the trumps and forces out the ace of spades. The king of diamonds is an entry to a winning spade, and South gets rid of his club loser.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S 9 8 2 H A K J 9 8 7 D A J C A 9. You open one heart, and your partner responds 1NT. The opponents pass. What do you say?

ANSWER: With an aggressive partner, make the textbook rebid of three hearts, promising 16 to 18 points with six good hearts, or raise to 2NT. With a timid partner, bid 3NT. Since you have good intermediates in hearts and aces on the side, your hand is better than its point-count suggests.

South dealer

N-S vulnerable

NORTH

S K Q J 10

H 10 3

D K Q

C Q J 10 5 2

WEST

S 6 4

H 5

D 10 9 8 6 2

C K 8 7 4 3

EAST

S A 7 5 3

H Q 6 4 2

D 7 5 4 3

C 6

SOUTH

S 9 8 2

H A K J 9 8 7

D A J

C A 9

The bidding:

South West North East

1 H Pass 2 C Pass

3 H Pass 3 S Pass

3 NT Pass 4 H Pass

6 H All Pass

Opening lead -- D 10

(c) 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate