Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} K 10 9 5

{heart} 5 3 2

{diam} Q 7 6 5

{club} J 10

WEST (D)

{spade} Q 6 2

{heart} 10 8 6

{diam} A K J 3

{club} 8 5 4

EAST

{spade} 7 4

{heart} A K 9 4

{diam} 10 9 2

{club} A 7 6 3

SOUTH

{spade} A J 8 3

{heart} Q J 7

{diam} 8 4

{club} K Q 9 2

The bidding:

West

North

East

South Pass

Pass

Pass

1 {club} Pass

1 {diam}

Pass

1 {spade} Pass

2 {spade}

All Pass Opening lead: {spade} K

In duplicate bridge, the basic goal on a partscore deal is to get a plus score. In today's deal, few of the East-West pairs went plus. Many Easts opened the bidding with one club after two passes, and West responded one diamond. When East was willing to try one heart next, West bid 1 NT, passed out. Good defense -- a spade opening lead and an early shift to clubs -- netted 200 points for North-South.

Even when East passed West at one diamond, East-West usually went minus. Even the contract of one diamond wasn't a lock, and South often "balanced" with a double, driving East-West to a higher contract that was sure to fail.

A few Easts passed in third seat, as in today's bidding, and then North-South landed at two spades. After West cashed the king of diamonds, he led a heart, and East took the K-A and led a third heart. South won, led a trump to the king and returned the ten to finesse, and West took the queen and cashed the ace of diamonds. East's ace of clubs won the setting trick, and North-South were minus 100 points for a bottom score on the deal.

Should South have made two spades?

When South won the third heart, he knew West had the A-K of diamonds and East had the A-K of hearts. Since neither player had opened the bidding, the ace of clubs and the queen of trumps had to lie in different hands.

South should have led a club at Trick 5. When East had the ace, South would know West held the queen of trumps.

(c)2003, Tribune Media Services