North-South vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} Q J 3

{heart} 10 6 5 4 2

{diam} 8 4 3

{club} 7 3

WEST

{spade} 10 9 8 7

{heart} J 7

{diam} Q 10 9 5

{club} 8 4 2

EAST

{spade} K 5 4

{heart} Q 9 3

{diam} J 6 2

{club} Q J 10 9

SOUTH (D)

{spade} A 6 2

{heart} A K 8

{diam} A K 7

{club} A K 6 5

The bidding:

South

3 NT

West

All Pass

North

East

Opening lead: {spade} 10

When my colleague Alfred Sheinwold passed on, I was fortunate to obtain the massive file of deals he accumulated over a half-century. As I pore through them, I find nuggets he left for me to mine.

Today's deal, dated 1960, was meant to illustrate a simple theme of play and defense. South rather boldly opens 3NT. True, he has 25 points; but if North has none, South may take only the seven tricks in his own hand.

West leads the ten of spades, and South is so happy to get a free finesse that he covers with the queen. East knows enough to play low; and then South can't use dummy's long hearts and takes only two tricks in each suit.

One measure of a man, Sheinwold might have written, is how he reacts when he's offered something for free. South must play dummy's three on the first spade and take the ace. After he sets up the hearts, he can reach dummy with a spade honor.

As I examined the deal, it seemed to me that the defense might have to be careful even if South misplayed at the first trick. Suppose South leads a club from dummy next and lets East's queen win. South wins the club return and bides his time with the A-K and a low diamond.

If West plays the ten, East must take the jack. South wins the next club, cashes the A-K of hearts and exits with a club, forcing East to lead from the king of spades.

Even if West rises with the queen(!) on the third diamond, he must lead another spade next. If instead West slips by cashing the ten of diamonds, any discard by East gives South a trick and the contract.

1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate