Missed Opportunity

Opportunity knocked in today's deal, but East was one of those people who merely complain about the noise.

North-South were playing "five-card majors," but South was willing to use his judgment: he treated his chunky four-card heart suit as a five-carder. Against six hearts, West led a club, and South tried the nine from dummy; he'd gain a trick if West had led from either the K-10 or Q-10.

Alas, East covered with the ten, but South still had a chance. He took the ace, drew trumps, ran the diamonds and led a spade to dummy's queen. The finesse worked, and South claimed 12 tricks: five hearts, four diamonds, two spades and a club.

FIRST TRICK

East must have been distracted by the noise since he blew his opportunity: he must put up the queen or king on the first club. South will take the ace and will be certain West has the ten.

Instead of taking the spade finesse for his 12th trick, South will lead a club to finesse with the eight, and East will get two clubs, defeating the slam.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S K 10 7 4 H 7 2 D 9 6 2 C 7 5 3 2. Your partner opens two spades (strong and forcing), and the next player passes. What do you say?

ANSWER: You have a chance to make a textbook bid: raise to four spades, promising strong trumps but denying any side ace, king or singleton. If good trump support is all your partner needs to make a slam, he'll bid it; otherwise, your bid will encourage him to stop safely at game.

Neither side vulnerable

NORTH

S A Q

H Q 9 8 6 5

D A K Q

C J 9 8

WEST

S K 10 7 4

H 7 2

D 9 6 2

C 7 5 3 2

EAST

S 8 6 5 3 2

H 4 3

D 8 7 4

C K Q 10

SOUTH dealer

S J 9

H A K J 10

D J 10 5 3

C A 6 4

South

1 H

4 D

5 C

West

Pass

Pass

Pass

North

3 D

4 H

6 H

East

Pass

Pass

All Pass

Opening lead -- C 2

Copyright 2000, Los Angeles Times Syndicate