South dealer

Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

S K

H 9 7 4 2

D J 4 3

C Q J 9 5 4

WEST

S J 10 9 6 4 2

H 10

D A 10 6 5 2

C 3

EAST

S Q 5 3

H A Q J 8 6

D Q

C 10 8 7 6

SOUTH

S A 8 7

H K 5 3

D K 9 8 7

C A K 2

South West North East

1 NT Pass 2 C Pass

2 D Pass 2 NT Pass

3 NT All Pass

Opening lead -- S J

Dwight Eisenhower said that pessimism never won a battle; it certainly wouldn't win today's contract. Look only at the North- South hands: how would you play after dummy's king of spades wins?

You have only seven top tricks and presumably need East to hold both red aces. You'd like to run the clubs, forcing discards from the defenders, but you need two dummy entries to lead to your red kings.

Moreover, it seems East must play low when you first lead toward a king: if he rises with the ace and returns a spade, you'll be in bad shape.

The actual South was no pessimist: he gave himself a slight extra chance by leading a diamond at Trick Two. When East's queen came up, South played the king, losing to West. South won the next spade, let the nine of diamonds ride, and took two diamonds, two spades and five clubs.

South also succeeds if East has the A-Q doubleton of diamonds. That's less than a two per cent chance -- but pessimism never won any battle.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S K H 9 7 4 2 D J 4 3 C Q J 9 5 4. Your partner opens one spade, you respond 1NT and he jumps to three spades. The opponents pass. What do you say?

ANSWER: Partner's bid is invitational to game; he has about 17 points with six or maybe seven good spades. Your king of spades is a good card, and if your other points were an ace, you might bid again. As it is, your values may not help partner, who has a distributional hand. Pass.