Artificial Bidding

At one table of a team match, South got to four hearts after opening with two hearts. West led a diamond, and South won, won a finesse with the jack of clubs and lost a trump finesse. When he got back in, he drew trumps and claimed -- all in less time than it takes to tell.

The other North-South were using a "strong club" system: South's one club merely promised a good hand, and North's one diamond showed weakness. That left room for East to bid one spade; and when North-South reached four hearts, West led the jack of spades.

OVERTAKES

East overtook to continue spades; but when South ruffed the third spade with the jack, West casually threw a diamond.

South was sure East had the queen of trumps but couldn't afford a finesse in clubs: if East won and led a fourth spade, he'd promote a trump trick for the defense. So South took the ace of trumps, led a club to the KING and let the ten of trumps ride.

West produced the queen, and South also lost a club. Down one!

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S J 8 H Q 8 D J 8 7 6 5 C Q 10 6 3. Your partner opens one spade, you respond 1NT and he bids two hearts. The opponents pass. What do you say?

ANSWER: Bid two spades. Since partner has five spades but may have four hearts, you must return to the longer trump suit. Though you've bid twice, he can't rely on you for much strength. If you liked hearts, you could pass; your cheap preference for spades also suggests weakness.

Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

S 7 6 5 4

H 10 9 3

D 9 4 3

C K J 2

WEST

S J 8

H Q 8

D J 8 7 6 5

C Q 10 6 3

EAST

S A K Q 9 3

H 7 6 5

D 10 2

C 9 8 7

SOUTH

S 10 2

H A K J 4 2

D A K Q

C A 5 4

The Bidding:

South

1 C

3 H

West

Pass

Pass

North

1 D

4 H

East

1 S

All Pass

Opening lead -- S J

Copyright 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate