A New Beginning

Welcome to the year 2000, contract bridge's Diamond Jubilee. It's also the Golden Anniversary of the Bermuda Bowl, the World Open Team championship. That event and the Venice Cup (the World Women's Teams) begin in Bermuda next week.

In the first Bermuda Bowl in 1950, also held in Bermuda, the U.S. beat Europe, but today's deal didn't help. To test yourself, cover the East-West cards.

When West led a diamond against the slam, the U.S. South faced a crucial decision and finessed with the queen. If the finesse had won, he'd have been a favorite; but East took the king and led a heart. Down one.

RIGHT GUESS

In the replay, the contract and opening lead were the same, but Europe's South guessed right: he put up the ace of diamonds and took the top trumps. When the queen fell, he threw dummy's heart on a high club and lost one diamond. The argument over which play was better went on for weeks.

I'll let you know whether the U.S. begins the year 2000 on a winning note.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S A K 8 5 4 H K 9 D 6 4 C A K Q J. You open one spade, your partner responds two hearts, you bid three clubs and he rebids three hearts. What do you say?

ANSWER: Since you have two low diamonds, to use Blackwood to ask for aces would be wrong; if partner had one ace, you wouldn't know what to do. Bid five hearts, asking him to go to slam if he can stop the opponents from taking two fast tricks in the unbid diamond suit.

E-W vulnerable

NORTH

S J 10 3 2

H 8

D A Q 10 9 8

C 10 8 2

WEST

S Q 6

H A 5 4 2

D J 5 2

C 9 7 6 4

EAST

S 9 7

H Q J 10 7 6 3

D K 7 3

C 5 3

SOUTH

S A K 8 5 4

H K 9

D 6 4

C A K Q J

West

Pass

Pass

Pass

All Pass

North

Pass

3 S

4 D

East

Pass

Pass

Pass

South

1 S

4 C

6 S

Opening lead -- D 2

Copyright 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate