You can't be a mental tourist at the bridge table. Don't let your mind wander; concentration is half the game.

In today's deal, dummy played low on the first heart, East played the deuce, and South won with the ace and led a diamond. West played "second hand low"; and when the king won, South claimed five spades, three hearts and a diamond.

"Only a mind-reader would beat it," West shrugged.

"If you consulted a mind-reader," East grumbled, "he'd charge you half price."

West must pay close attention to beat the contract. He can place South with the king of hearts: if South had only the ace, he'd put up dummy's queen at the first trick as the only chance to win a trick with it. West can also give South the king of spades: if South had, say, 10-x of spades, he'd first attack spades, his best suit, not diamonds.

Since West can therefore see nine probable tricks for South, West should rise with the ace of diamonds and lead a low club as his only chance.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S 8 4 H J 10 9 7 D A 8 3 C A Q 8 3. With both sides vulnerable, your partner opens one spade, you respond two clubs and he then bids two hearts. The opponents pass. What do you say?

ANSWER: Bid four hearts. You have only 11 points in high cards, but aces, a possibly useful queen and good intermediates in hearts. Moreover, your side is vulnerable; hence you have more to gain than to lose by bidding an aggressive game.

North-South vulnerable

NORTH

S A Q J 9 5

H Q 4

D K J 5

C 10 6 2

WEST

S 8 4

H J 10 9 7

D A 8 3

C A Q 8 3

EAST

S 7 6 2

H 8 5 2

D 10 7 6 2

C K 7 4

SOUTH

S K 10 3

H A K 6 3

D Q 9 4

C J 9 5

South West North East

1 C Pass 1 S Pass

1 NT Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening lead -- H J

(C) 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate