N-S vulnerable


{spade} 8 4 2

{heart} Q 5 3

{diam} A Q 10 6

{club} A Q 3


{spade} K J 10 9 5

{heart} J 9 8

{diam} 8 4

{club} 10 8 2


{spade} 7 6 3

{heart} A 10 6

{diam} K 7 2

{club} J 7 6 5


{spade} A Q

{heart} K 7 4 2

{diam} J 9 5 3

{club} K 9 4

The bidding: South WestNorthEast1 {diam} Pass3 {diam} Pass3 NT All Pass Opening lead: {spade} J

"Your honor," the district attorney began, "we will prove South committed a felony, in that he went down at a cold 3NT."


"North-South were using an antiquated bidding system," the DA began. "In modern methods, North's raise to three diamonds would be invitational or preemptive. South treated it as forcing since he bid 3NT with minimum values."

"I can see the bidding was vintage 1950," sighed the judge. "Get on with it."

"South took the queen of spades," the DA said, "and led a heart to dummy's queen. East won and returned a spade, and South won and let the nine of diamonds ride. East took the king and led his last spade for down one."

"It seems to me," the judge frowned, "that declarer gave himself an extra chance when he led a heart at Trick Two. If West had, say, A-9-8, he'd have to play low, else South would win three hearts, three clubs, two spades and a diamond. When East takes the ace of hearts, South still succeeds if the diamond finesse wins."

"True," the DA replied, "but South misplayed. He should lead a club to dummy at Trick Two to return a heart through East. South is in danger only if West has a five-card spade suit, but if West had the ace of hearts as well, he might have bid one spade over South's one diamond.

"So South should assume East has the ace of hearts, and as the cards lie South is safe. If East grabs the first heart, South has nine tricks. If East plays low, South wins and shifts to diamonds for nine tricks."

"Guilty as charged."

(c)2005, Tribune Media Services