Mixed Emotions

"I had mixed emotions," a player said about today's deal. "It was like seeing my worst enemy drive off a cliff -- in my new car."

South took the ace of hearts, drew trumps, cashed the king of diamonds and finessed with the jack. If West held the queen, South would succeed if diamonds broke 3-3 or if East had the king of clubs. As it was, South lost a diamond and a club.

"Maybe my bidding was too bold," South told me, "but if I stop at six, I can't make that either. It was nobler to go down at seven."

Do you agree?

12 TRICKS

South's play was correct at seven spades; but at six spades, he must draw trumps, cash the K-A of diamonds and lead dummy's ten of hearts. When East plays low, South throws his last diamond.

West must concede the 12th trick: if he leads a club, South gets two club tricks; if West leads a heart, South ruffs in dummy and throws the queen of clubs; if West had a diamond to lead, South would play dummy's jack to make sure of a diamond trick.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S 2 H K Q J 9 6 D 7 6 C K 9 4 3 2. Your partner opens 1NT, and the next player passes. What do you say?

ANSWER: Bid four hearts. Since partner may have only two hearts, you'd prefer a six-card suit for this bid. But since you have five strong hearts and a shapely hand, the ten-trick game at hearts is probably best anyway. Second choice: a bid of three hearts, planning to try four clubs if partner returned to 3NT.

Both sides vulnerable

NORTH dealer

S Q J 8 7

H A 10

D A J 4 3

C 7 6 5

WEST

S 2

H K Q J 9 6

D 7 6

C K 9 4 3 2

EAST

S 3

H 8 7 5 4 2

D Q 10 9 8

C J 10 8

SOUTH

S A K 10 9 6 5 4

H 3

D K 5 2

C A Q

North

1 D

3 S

5 H

East

Pass

Pass

Pass

South

2 S

4 NT

7 S

West

Pass

Pass

All Pass

Opening lead -- H K

Copyright 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate