South dealer

Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

S 8 7 3

H Q 7 6 2

D K 8 3

C K J 10

WEST

S Q J 10 9 5

H K J 9 3

D A 10 7

C 7

EAST

S 6 4

H 10 5

D J 6

C 9 8 6 5 4 3 2

SOUTH

S A K 2

H A 8 4

D Q 9 5 4 2

C A Q

South West North East

1 D 1 S Pass Pass

1 NT Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening lead -- S Q

A horse race lasts about two minutes. I'll let you decide whether to bet on declarer or the defense in today's deal. Time limit: two minutes.

It wasn't much of a horse race when the deal was actually played. South won the second spade and led a diamond, putting up the king when West ducked. East played the six.

South next led a diamond and let East's jack win. When East led a heart, South grabbed the ace and forced out the ace of diamonds, winning three diamonds, three clubs, two spades and a heart.

The defense might win by a nose if East unblocks the jack of diamonds under the king; West wins the next diamond with the ten, clears the spades and gets in with the ace of diamonds to run the spades.

But South can always get home: his simplest route is to play dummy's eight on the first diamond, passing one diamond loser to East, who is out of spades. When East takes the jack and leads a heart, South wins and forces out the ace of diamonds for nine tricks.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S A K 2 H A 8 4 D Q 9 5 4 2 C A Q. You open one diamond, your partner responds one spade, you next bid 2NT (about 19 points, balanced distribution) and he tries three hearts. What do you say?

ANSWER: Partner's bidding suggests at least five spades and at least four hearts. You'd return to three spades with average values and three decent spades. With your actual hand, jump to four spades to suggest strong three-card support.