"You must be suffering from insanity," West chided his partner.

"Actually, I'm enjoying every minute of it," East laughed. Was he really a candidate for the men in the white coats?

South put up dummy's king on the first heart -- and East played low! That was enough to provoke West's comment: but when dummy led another heart, East played low again. South threw a diamond, and West ruffed and led a trump.

South drew trumps with the king and ace and led another high heart; but this time East covered. South ruffed, but since he couldn't get back to dummy, he lost two clubs and a diamond. Down one.

"Madman," West sighed. "Opens three hearts on that hand, won't take his ace and winds up with a plus score in spite of it all."

East was crazy like a fox; he found the only defense to beat the contract. If East wins the first heart and returns, say, a heart, South can ruff high, draw trumps ending in dummy, and win six trumps, two hearts and two side aces.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S A 3 2 H K Q J 10 D 8 5 4 C 6 4 3. Your partner opens one heart, and the next player passes. What do you say?

ANSWER: Bid two hearts. This bid promises a maximum of nine points, but your hand isn't quite as good as its high-card count suggests. The distribution is perfectly balanced, and the hand is full of losers. Moreover, the jack of hearts is a "wasted" point since partner should be able to draw trumps without it.

North-South vulnerable

NORTH

S A 3 2

H K Q J 10

D 8 5 4

C 6 4 3

WEST

S 7 5 4

H 2

D K 10 9 6 2

C K J 9 5

EAST

S 6

H A 9 8 7 5 4 3

D Q J

C Q 10 8

SOUTH

S K Q J 10 9 8

H 6

D A 7 3

C A 7 2

West North East South

Pass Pass 3 H 3 S

Pass 4 S All Pass

Opening lead -- H 2

(C) 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate