Both sides vulnerable

NORTH (D)

S 6 5 2

H K 10 6

D A K J 10 5

C Q 5

WEST

S 8 7 3

H Q J 9 2

D 4 2

C 10 9 6 3

EAST

S K J 10 9 4

H 7 5

D Q 6 3

C A 8 4

SOUTH

S A Q

H A 8 4 3

D 9 8 7

C K J 7 2

North East South West

1 D 1 S 2 C Pass

2 D Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening lead -- S 8

A pessimist may be someone who, when confronted with a choice between two evils, chooses both. But two evils at the bridge table can be better than one.

Today's declarer won the first spade with the queen and, since the diamond finesse seemed to be a necessary evil, he let the nine ride next. East took the queen and forced out the ace of spades. South could then cash four diamonds; but when he led a club next, East took the ace and three good spades. Down one.

South must face two evils: if the diamond finesse loses, he must also force out the ace of clubs to win nine tricks. But South can handle both evils if he leads a diamond to the ace at Trick Two and returns a low club through East, who surely has the ace for his overcall.

If East wins, South has three clubs, two diamonds, two hearts and two spades. If instead East plays low, South finesses in diamonds next. Even if the finesse loses, he has four diamonds, a club, two hearts and two spades.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S A Q H A 8 4 3 D 9 8 7 C K J 7 2. You open one club, and your partner responds one spade. The opponents pass. What do you say?

ANSWER: Bid 1NT, promising minimum opening values with balanced distribution. You must avoid two traps: one is raising the spades, since two-card support -- even the A-Q -- is inadequate; the other is bidding two hearts, which would be a "reverse" and would promise substantial extra strength.