Winning in a Hurry

As West, you lead the queen of clubs against South's game. He takes dummy's king and leads a trump: the six from your partner, the queen from South. What do you do? (If you haven't decided by now, the jig is up.)

Say you grab your king and lead another club. South takes the ace -- dummy's last entry -- and leads a heart: four, queen. He draws trumps and claims, losing a trump, a diamond and a club.

ENTITLED

If you think South was entitled to win one finesse out of two, you're missing the point. You must duck the first trump -- smoothly, so South won't know you have the king. You have no reason to win in a hurry.

South can return to dummy for one more finesse. He can swap horses and finesse in hearts but has no reason to do so when he can repeat what seems to be a winning trump finesse. If South leads a club to the ace and a trump to the jack, you win, cash a club and exit with a trump; and South loses a trick in each suit.

This week: hold-up plays on defense.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S 9 6 H K J 7 4 3 2 D J 10 C 8 7 2. Your partner opens one spade, and the next player passes. What do you say?

ANSWER: A friend of mine held this hand and passed because he had "only five points." His partner had AKQ42, A1065, A84, 9 and wasn't happy to be stuck at one spade when six hearts was almost a laydown contract. Give fate a chance and bid 1NT. You must respond, and this is your only option with so few high cards.

South dealer

N-S vulnerable

NORTH

S 7 5 2

H 9 6 5

D 8 7 4 3

C A K 5

WEST

S K 8 3

H 10 8

D Q 9 5 2

C Q J 10 9

EAST

S 9 6

H K J 7 4 3 2

D J 10

C 8 7 2

SOUTH

S A Q J 10 4

H A Q

D A K 6

C 6 4 3

South

1 S

4 S

West

Pass

All Pass

North

2 S

East

Pass

Opening lead -- C Q

Copyright 2000, Los Angeles Times Syndicate