N-S vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} 7 6 5 2

{heart} A 9 6 4 2

{diam} K 2

{club} J 6

WEST

{spade} Q 4 3

{heart} None

{diam} Q J 10 8 4

{club} K 9 8 4 2

EAST

{spade} J 10 9 8

{heart} K 10 8

{diam} 9 6 5 3

{club} A 3

SOUTH (D)

{spade} A K

{heart} Q J 7 5 3

{diam} A 7

{club} Q 10 7 5

The bidding: SouthWestNorthEast1 {heart} 2 NT 3 {heart} Pass4 {heart} All Pass Opening lead: {diam} Q

A pessimist won't pick a four-leaf clover for fear it might be poison ivy, but a little caution as declarer can save you hundreds of points.

West's 2NT was "unusual," promising length in both minor suits. When he led the queen of diamonds against four hearts, South won with the ace and led the queen of trumps for a finesse despite West's bid.

When West discarded, South let the queen ride. East won and led the ace and a low club to West's king, and not even a four-leaf clover could save South. West led a third club, and East was sure to get a second trump trick.

South was an optimist when he led the queen of trumps. He should have been a pessimist since the chance of a 3-0 break was significant. South should win the first diamond in dummy and lead a low trump.

If the trumps break 2-1, South can't lose more than one trump, and he is safe even as the cards lie. If East wins and attacks clubs, South can safely ruff the third club with the ace of trumps.

Daily Question

You hold:

{spade} A K {heart} Q J 7 5 3 {diam} A 7 {club} Q 10 7 5.

You open one heart, your partner responds one spade, you bid two clubs and he returns to two hearts. What do you say?

Answer: This decision is close. Partner has fewer than 10 points and only a doubleton heart. With six to nine points and three-card support, he'd have raised to two hearts at his first turn. Since most of your points lie in your shorter suits, take a conservative view and pass.

(c)2005, Tribune Media Services