"My results haven't been so great lately," a pupil sighed. "Look at this deal from my team's match last night.

"I refused the first spade, and East played the jack. When West led another spade, I won with the queen and took the A-Q of clubs. If clubs break 3-2 or if the jack drops singleton, I'm home free; but East threw a diamond.

"I led a diamond next; and East won and forced out dummy's ace of spades. I cashed the king of clubs and led another diamond; but East took the ace and two more spades to beat me."

GOOD PLAY

South's duck of the first spade, saving dummy's entry to the clubs, was good; but her handling of the clubs was the sort of play that produces consequences, not results.

South has two heart tricks and two spades; hence she needs only five clubs to make game. After South cashes the ace of clubs, she should overtake the queen with dummy's king and lead the ten to force out the jack. South can then win the spade return with the ace and run the clubs.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S Q 5 4 H A K 3 2 D Q 10 3 2 C A Q. You open 1NT, and your partner responds two clubs (the Stayman Convention). You bid two hearts, and he then tries two spades. The opponents pass. What do you say?

ANSWER: Partner's sequence promises invitational strength -- about eight points -- and five cards in spades. Since you have three-card spade support, a possible ruffing feature in clubs and almost maximum values, bid four spades.

East dealer

N-S vulnerable

NORTH

S A 3 2

H 8

D J 8 4

C K 10 9 8 3 2

WEST

S K 7

H 9 7 6 4

D 9 6 5

C J 7 6 4

EAST

S J 10 9 8 6

H Q J 10 5

D A K 7

C 5

SOUTH

S Q 5 4

H A K 3 2

D Q 10 3 2

C A Q

East South West North

1 S Dbl Pass 3 C

Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening lead -- S K

Copyright 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate