N-S vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} A 5 3 2

{heart} 10 3

{diam} 7 4 2

{club} A J 10 8

WEST

{spade} 10 8 7 4

{heart} Q 9 6 2

{diam} 10 9 8

{club} 5 3

EAST

{spade} 9 6

{heart} J 5

{diam} 6 5 3

{club} Q 9 7 6 4 2

SOUTH (D)

{spade} K Q J

{heart} A K 8 7 4

{diam} A K Q J

{club} K

The bidding:

South

2 {heart}

3 {diam}

6 NT

West

Pass

Pass

All Pass

North

3 {club}

3 {spade}

East

Pass

Pass

Opening lead: {diam} 10

It was almost midnight when my phone rang. I groped for the receiver and heard Unlucky Louie's voice.

"How nice of you to call," I mumbled. "What's the problem?"

"A slam I played," Louie croaked. "It's given me such a headache I even contacted my acupuncturist."

"Could he see you at this hour?"

"He said to take two thumbtacks and call him in the morning. You're my only chance for some sleep."

Louie had won the first diamond, unblocked the K-Q-J of spades and led a low heart. East took the jack and led another diamond; and Louie cashed the diamonds, overtook the king of clubs with the ace and took the ace of spades.

"I make it if hearts break 3-3," Louie said, "or if a defender holds four or more hearts plus the queen of clubs, since he's squeezed. As it was, I went down."

"Your play was fine," I said. "It's not worth insomnia."

"But I don't see any way to make 6NT," Louie moaned, "and I know there must be one."

Can you make the slam?

South overtakes the king of clubs with the ace at the second trick and leads the jack. East takes the queen (to duck won't help) and returns a diamond. South takes three diamonds and the K-Q of spades, overtakes the jack of spades with the ace and cashes the 10 of clubs at Trick 10.

Dummy has a low spade and two hearts left, and South has the A-K-8 of hearts. Since West must keep the 10 of spades, he can hold only two hearts; and South's eight wins the last trick.

1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate