N-S vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} Q 4 2

{heart} A K Q 10 4

{diam} A 8

{club} 7 5 3

WEST

{spade} J 8 6

{heart} 9 7 5 3

{diam} 10 9

{club} K J 6 2

EAST

{spade} 10

{heart} J 8 6

{diam} Q J 7 6 3 2

{club} A 9 4

SOUTH (D)

{spade} A K 9 7 5 3

{heart} 2

{diam} K 5 4

{club} Q 10 8

The bidding: SouthWestNorth East1 {spade}Pass2 {heart}Pass2 {spade} Pass4 {spade}All Pass Opening lead -- Choose it

An Annapolis tour guide dressed in colonial-era garb slipped on the job, broke his wrist and had to go to the hospital. In the ER, the doctor who saw him was startled: "Sir, just how long have you been waiting?"

In today's deal, West gingerly led the 10 of diamonds against South's game -- and he's still waiting for his club tricks. South took the top diamonds, ruffed his last diamond in dummy and drew trumps. He next discarded two clubs on dummy's top hearts. When East's jack fell, South had 14 tricks. He settled for 13, throwing his last club on the 10 of hearts.

It wasn't the right time for a "safe" opening lead. North's bidding had promised a good hand with a five-card heart suit and spade support, and West's weak heart holding made it likely that South could use the hearts for discards. West needed to make the most aggressive lead possible, hoping to cash or establish defensive tricks in a hurry.

If West's hearts were, say, Q-J-9-3, he wouldn't be as afraid of the hearts and could afford to lead the passive 10 of diamonds. As it was, West should have led the deuce of clubs.

East takes the ace and returns a club, and West scores his jack and king. Since the powerful dummy suggests the defenders' best chance for a fourth trick is in trumps, West leads the 13th club next.

When East obliges by "uppercutting" with the 10 of trumps, South must overruff with an honor in his hand, and West's J-8-6 of trumps are worth the setting trick.

(c)2004, Tribune Media Services