North-South vulnerable

NORTH (D)

(S) A 7

(H) K 7 4 2

(D) A Q 9

(C) K 7 4 2

WEST

(S) 9 6 3

(H) J 10 9 5

(D) 10 5

(C) Q 9 8 5

EAST

(S) 8 5 4

(H) 8 6 3

(D) K J 8 7 2

(C) J 10

SOUTH

(S) K Q J 10 2

(H) A Q

(D) 6 4 3

(C) A 6 3

The bidding:

North East South West

1 NT Pass 3 (S) Pass

3 NT Pass 6 (S) All Pass

Opening lead -- (H) J

Our friend Unlucky Louie isn't really such a poor player; the only bad part of his game is that he loses so much.

Louie bid six spades instead of 6NT to collect 100 honors. He won the first heart with the ace, drew trumps, throwing a heart from dummy, and next conceded a club. East won and led another heart.

Louie took the queen and cashed the K-A of clubs. When East discarded, Louie finessed with the queen of diamonds, but East's king won the setting trick.

"I had chances, but none of them worked," Louie sighed.

Louie was unlucky in his choice of plays. If he happens to save dummy's fourth heart, for example, he can "squeeze" West between hearts and clubs for the 12th trick.

Perhaps the best line is to draw trumps, cash the queen of hearts and the A-K of clubs, pitch a club on the king of hearts and ruff a club. When clubs don't break 3-3, lead a diamond to dummy's nine. East wins but has only diamonds left and must lead into the A-Q, conceding the slam.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: (S) A 7 (H) K 7 4 2 (D) A Q 9 (C) K 7 4 2. Dealer, at your right, opens one spade. You double, and your partner bids two hearts. The opponents pass. What do you say?

ANSWER: This is a dangerous situation; partner was obliged to respond to your double and may have no strength and poor hearts. Still, you have 16 points, and your hand is worth more since your honors are well placed behind the opening bidder. Raise to three hearts.

Copyright 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate