Both sides vulnerable


{spade} None

{heart} Q 9 5 2

{diam} A Q 7 6

{club} 9 8 7 4 2


{spade} J 10 9 7 4

{heart} J 6 3

{diam} K 4 3

{club} K 5


{spade} 8 6 5 3 2

{heart} 10

{diam} J 10 9

{club} J 10 6 3


{spade} A K Q

{heart} A K 8 7 4

{diam} 8 5 2

{club} A Q

The bidding: NorthEastSouthWest PassPass 1 {heart} Pass4 {heart} Pass 6 {heart} All Pass Opening lead: {spade} J

Another letter arrived from the Society of Finessers, complaining that finesses never win in my columns.

"Dear Sir: We must again protest your disdain for the finesse, an honorable play that works fully half the time -- except when you write about it. Shame!"

As usual, the Society sent a deal to set me straight. At six hearts South takes three spades, throwing diamonds from dummy, cashes the A-Q of trumps and tries a club to his queen. West wins and leads his last trump, and South is sunk: He can ruff only one of his remaining low diamonds in dummy.

South's winning approach -- the Society will be happy to hear me admit it -- lies with a diamond finesse. After South wins the first spade, he takes the Q-A of trumps. When East discards, South leads a diamond to the queen. He draws trumps and is sure of 12 tricks: five trumps, three spades, two diamonds, a diamond ruff in dummy and a club.

If the diamond finesse lost, South would succeed if the club finesse won.

Daily Question

You hold:

{spade} A K Q {heart} A K 8 7 4 {diam} 8 5 2 {club} A Q.

South in today's deal opened one heart with this hand. Do you agree?

Answer: The hand has too few playing tricks for a forcing opening bid. Many experts would open 2NT, but I like one heart. Auctions that begin with 2NT are relatively crowded; a bid of one heart leaves more room for investigation. Moreover, your partner will seldom have a hand with which he'll respond to 2NT but pass one heart.

(c)2005, Tribune Media Services