Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} 8 6 3

{heart} 5 4 2

{diam} 8 6 5

{club} K Q 5 2

WEST

{spade} Q 5 2

{heart} Q 10 9 7

{diam} 7 4

{club} J 10 8 7

EAST

{spade} J 10 9 7

{heart} 8 6 3

{diam} Q J 10 9 2

{club} A

SOUTH (D)

{spade} A K 4

{heart} A K J

{diam} A K 3

{club} 9 6 4 3

The bidding:SouthWestNorthEast2 NTPass3 NTAll Pass Opening lead: {heart} 10

Cy the Cynic defines luck as the reason people he doesn't like win so much.

Cy was today's West, and South was Ed, the best player in my club, whom Cy doesn't so much dislike as envy. Against 3NT, Cy got off to an unfortunate lead: the ten of hearts. Ed won with the jack and had seven top tricks: two spades, three hearts and two diamonds.

An unlucky player would have led a club to the king next, and East would take the ace and return a heart. When South won and tried a club to the queen, East would discard, and South would get no second club trick and would go down.

Ed, though, led a club at Trick Two . . . and played low from dummy. East's ace fell, and Ed had nine tricks.

"Remarkable luck," Cy bit out.

Ed's play was correct. If clubs broke 3-2, he could always take two club tricks. If West had four clubs -- say, A-J-8-7 -- Ed would have time to lead twice toward dummy's K-Q-5 later. To duck the first club saves the day if East has the bare ace.

Daily Question

You hold:

{spade} 8 6 3 {heart} 5 4 2 {diam} 8 6 5 {club} K Q 5 2.

Dealer, at your left, opens one diamond. Your partner doubles, you bid two clubs and your partner next jumps to three hearts. The opponents pass. What do you say?

Answer: Partner has a powerful hand. He should have nine winners in his own hand since your response of two clubs promised no values. Since you actually have a side K-Q and three-card support for his suit, bid four hearts confidently.

(c)2005, Tribune Media Services