Some deals seem suitable for display in a curio cabinet. How do you play as today's South to win 12 tricks against any lie of the East-West cards?

Say you take the ace of spades, draw trumps and cash dummy's A-K of clubs. West discards.

You're still safe. Lead a heart to your nine. Even when West wins with the jack, he must return either a heart into your A-Q, giving dummy two club discards, or a spade, letting you discard a club from dummy, ruff in your hand and throw dummy's last club on the ace of hearts.

RUFF-SLUFF

Now say East had a singleton club. You'd cash the ace of hearts and lead the queen, planning to pitch a club from dummy if West didn't cover. If East won, he'd have to return a heart, setting up a heart winner for you, or yield a ruff-sluff.

If West had the king of hearts and covered the queen, you'd ruff in dummy, return with a trump and lead the ten of hearts for another ruffing finesse, making sure of a 12th trick no matter who had the jack.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S K Q 7 6 4 2 H 7 6 3 D None C Q J 10 8. Your partner opens 1NT, and the next player passes. What do you say?

ANSWER: If you missed this one, you need to brush up on your basic bidding. Bid four spades. Since partner has described his strength and pattern, it's your job to place the contract. You have enough points for game and have an eight-card fit in spades, since partner has at least two. Do your duty and bid game.

South dealer

Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

S 5

H 4

D J 9 8 7 5 3 2

C A K 5 2

WEST

S J 10 9 8 3

H K J 8 5 2

D 6 4

C 9

EAST

S K Q 7 6 4 2

H 7 6 3

D None

C Q J 10 8

SOUTH

S A

H A Q 10 9

D A K Q 10

C 7 6 4 3

South West North East

1 D Pass 2 C 2 S

3 S 4 S 6 D All Pass

Opening lead -- S J