No Waiting

It's Christmas Eve, but kids are still "wishpering" in Santa's ear. One store I shopped had an express Santa for kids who wanted eight toys or less, and another boasted a sign: "Four Santas. No Waiting."

There's no waiting if West wants to defeat today's contract. South took the ace of spades and casually led the nine of clubs. West played low. East won and led a trump, but South rose with the ace to gain time.

West won the next club and led a diamond; but South guessed right: he took dummy's ace and led good clubs, throwing his remaining diamonds. West's king of trumps scored, but South made his game.

GOOD CLUBS

West can see the defense almost surely needs a diamond trick to beat the game; but even if East has the king, a diamond lead must come from West. West can't wait until dummy's clubs are good to lead a diamond; he must grab the ace on the first club and lead a diamond, and South loses four tricks.

I wish a holiday season of joy and peace to all my readers.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S K J 10 8 3 H 3 D K 10 6 2 C K 5 2. Your partner opens one heart, you respond one spade, he rebids two hearts and you try 2NT. Partner next bids three diamonds. The opponents pass. What do you say?

ANSWER: Partner's bidding suggests six hearts, four diamonds and minimum values. If he had extra strength, his second bid would have been two diamonds or three hearts. Game is unlikely, and you've already stretched to bid 2NT. Pass.

N-S vulnerable

NORTH

S 6

H J 10 9 7 6

D A 3

C Q 10 8 7 4

WEST

S Q 9 7 2

H K 2

D J 9 7 4

C A 6 3

EAST

S K J 10 8 3

H 3

D K 10 6 2

C K 5 2

SOUTH

S A 5 4

H A Q 8 5 4

D Q 8 5

C J 9

South

1 H

West

Pass

North

4 H

East

All Pass

Opening lead -- S 2

Copyright 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate