Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} 5 3

{heart} 7 4 2

{diam} 6 5 4

{club} Q 10 9 5 2

WEST

{spade} Q 10 9 6

{heart} Q 8 5 3

{diam} Q 8

{club} A 8 3

EAST

{spade} 8 7 4 2

{heart} J 10 9

{diam} K 10 9 7

{club} 7 4

SOUTH (D)

{spade} A K J

{heart} A K 6

{diam} A J 3 2

{club} K J 6

The bidding:

South

West

North

East2 {club}

Pass

2 {diam}

Pass2 NT

Pass

3 NT

All Pass

Opening lead: {spade} 10

"Is one queen enough to raise to game?" a reader asks.

"I was North, and my partner's sequence -- an opening bid of two clubs followed by 2 NT -- promised 23 or 24 points with balanced distribution. Since I thought she might use my clubs, I raised."

My fan says her partner started well: West led a spade and South's jack won. But when South next led the king and jack of clubs, West played low. Since the clubs were dead, South tried the ace and a low diamond next. West won and led another spade, and South won and led another diamond. She hoped for a 3-3 break but actually took only one diamond, three spades, two hearts and two clubs. Down one.

"Partner didn't like my raise," my fan says.

You can often make 3 NT with 13 points opposite 13, but not with 24 opposite 2. Then declarer lacks entries to lead toward the high cards in the stronger hand and may not be able to use a long suit in the weaker hand.

Nevertheless, North's raise to 3 NT was correct. Switch South's spades and clubs, and game would be a big favorite. Moreover, South can take nine tricks on the actual deal.

After South wins the first spade, she can give herself an extra chance by leading a low diamond at the second trick. West wins and leads another spade.

South then cashes the ace of diamonds, dropping West's queen, and leads the king and jack of clubs. When West ducks, South overtakes with dummy's queen and returns a diamond toward her jack to set up the ninth trick.

(c)2002, Tribune Media Services