Both sides vulnerable

NORTH (D)

(S) A J 7

(H) A Q 3

(D) A J 5

(C) J 6 4 3

WEST

(S) 8 5 3

(H) 10 8 7

(D) 10 6 4 3

(C) A K 7

EAST

(S) 6

(H) K J 6 5

(D) Q 8 7 2

(C) Q 10 9 5

SOUTH

(S) K Q 10 9 4 2

(H) 9 4 2

(D) K 9

(C) 8 2

The bidding:

North East South West

1 NT Pass 4 (S) All Pass

Opening lead -- (C) K

"My partner infuriates me," a player at the club complained. "He has an answer for everything but a solution for nothing."

When my complainant was South, he ruffed the third club lead (not the best defense), drew trumps, took the king of diamonds and finessed with the jack. East took the queen and led the queen of clubs; and South ruffed and tried a heart to the queen.

"That finesse lost also, and I went down. Partner said I must draw only two rounds of trumps, ruff dummy's last club, and lead the king, ace and jack of diamonds. When East's queen covers, I throw a heart; and East must lead a heart into the A-Q or concede a ruff-sluff.

"I think my partner was playing with mirrors; what if West had the queen of diamonds?"

The line of play East proposed was good but no solution. To assure the contract, South ruffs the third club, draws trumps and leads dummy's jack of clubs, pitching a heart when East covers. East must lead a red card, giving South a free finesse and his 10th trick.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: (S) K Q 10 9 4 2 (H) 9 4 2 (D) K 9 (C) 8 2. You are the dealer with neither side vulnerable. What do you say?

ANSWER: This is an ideal "weak two-bid," a treatment that has been around for 50 years and is a favorite of almost all tournament players and many casual players. A bid of two spades promises an average hand with a good six-card suit. But if you and your partner agreed to play old-fashioned strong two-bids, pass.

Copyright 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate