Trade Secrets

To become a good player, don't worry about learning the tricks of the trade. Learn the trade.

South tried the spade finesse at the second trick, and West took the king and led another low diamond. South captured East's nine and let the queen of clubs ride. East won and led his last diamond through South's Q-4 to West's K-10-8, and down South went.

NO FINESSE

South might make 3 NT with some tricky play: he could (in theory) lead a heart to his ace at Trick Two and let the queen of clubs ride. East would return a diamond, and West would take South's queen and force out his jack. South then cashes the king of hearts and jack of clubs and exits with a diamond, forcing West to lead from the king of spades.

But South gets home as he actually played -- if he simply refuses the second diamond. West wins the third diamond with the king; but when South takes the next diamond and loses a club finesse, East has no diamond to lead.

Hold-up plays are basic technique, not a trade secret.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S K 9 5 4 H J 6 D K 10 8 5 3 C 8 6. Your partner opens one heart, you respond one spade and he next bids two clubs. The opponents pass. What do you say?

ANSWER: Bid two hearts, returning to the suit where your side is sure to have more trumps than the opponents. You suggest minimum responding values -- no more than nine points -- but only a doubleton heart since with three or more you'd have raised the hearts at your first turn.

Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

S 7 6 3 2

H K 8 5 4

D A

C A 10 9 5

WEST

S K 9 5 4

H J 6

D K 10 8 5 3

C 8 6

EAST

S 10 8

H Q 10 7 2

D 9 7 6

C K 7 4 3

SOUTH dealer

S A Q J

H A 9 3

D Q J 4 2

C Q J 2

South

1 NT

2 D

West

Pass

Pass

North

2 C

3 NT

East

Pass

All Pass

Opening lead -- D 5

Copyright 2000, Los Angeles Times Syndicate