Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} 7 6 3

{heart} Q 9 6 5 2

{diam} K Q

{club} 6 5 3

WEST

{spade} 10 2

{heart} K J 10 4

{diam} 9 7 4 3

{club} A 10 4

EAST (D)

{spade} K Q J 9 8 5

{heart} 8 7 3

{diam} J 10 6 5

{club} None

SOUTH

{spade} A 4

{heart} A

{diam} A 8 2

{club} K Q J 9 8 7 2

The bidding:

East

South

West

North 3 {spade}

5 {club}

Dbl

All Pass

Opening lead: {spade} 10

"When my partner leaped to five clubs and got doubled," a player at the club told me, displaying today's deal, "I expected to see him go for his life."

"What happened?" I asked.

"He went down one. East overtook the first spade with the jack, and my partner took the ace and led the king of trumps. West won and produced another spade, and when East won and led a third spade, my partner had to lose a second trump to West's ten whether he ruffed low or high. But after my partner preempted, I was happy to lose only 200 points."

Before you read on, decide whether you'd have been happy with the result if you'd been North.

South's jump to five clubs was no preempt. When an opponent's bid suggests weakness, it's illogical to play a jump-overcall as a weak action. There are no "preempts over preempts": South's bid was strong, and though North couldn't be sure South would take 11 tricks, North did have three trumps and a diamond trick to offer.

South would make his doubled contract by refusing the first spade but couldn't know East had only six spades for his preempt. South can try to guard against the actual distribution, however, by cashing the ace of hearts at Trick Two, leading a diamond to dummy and returning the queen of hearts. When East plays low, South discards his last spade: a "scissors coup." Since East can't get in to lead a spade and promote an extra trump trick for West, South is safe.

If I'd been North, I'd have been disappointed not to be plus 750 points.

(c)2002, Tribune Media Services