"What's your opening lead against six spades?" someone asked me. She gave me the West hand and recited an auction that begged for a heart lead.

"A heart's no good," I was told. "South takes the ace of hearts and the ace of clubs, ruffs a club, cashes the ace of diamonds, ruffs a diamond and ruffs his last club. He ruffs a diamond, draws trumps and loses one heart."

"What did West lead against you?" I asked.

"A trump, but how he found that lead is a mystery. Since I couldn't ruff two clubs in dummy, I finessed with the queen; but West won and led another trump. When the heart finesse lost, I went down two."

"Tough luck," I said.

After the trump lead, South can't ruff two clubs in dummy; she must attack the diamonds. South takes the ace of trumps, leads a diamond to the ace, ruffs a diamond high, returns a trump to dummy's ten and ruffs a diamond.

South can then draw trumps, lead a heart to the ace and run the diamonds for 13 tricks instead of ten.


You hold: S 10 4 H A 7 5 D A J 10 8 7 5 2 C 4. You're the dealer with neither side vulnerable. What do you say?

ANSWER: Although you have a good seven-card suit, this hand isn't suitable for a bid of three diamonds: your two aces give you too much defensive strength for a preempt. I'd pass, but I wouldn't quarrel with a bid of one diamond: you have winners, two defensive tricks and an easy rebid; all you lack are points.

Both sides vulnerable


S 10 4

H A 7 5

D A J 10 8 7 5 2

C 4


S 8 7 6

H 6 4 2

D 6 3

C K 6 5 3 2


S 3 2

H K 9 8 3

D K Q 9

C J 10 9 8


S A K Q J 9 5

H Q J 10

D 4

C A Q 7

South West North East

1 S Pass 2 D Pass

3 S Pass 4 S Pass

5 C Pass 6 S All Pass

Opening lead -- S 8

(C) 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate