N-S vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} K 5 4 3

{heart} 4 3 2

{diam} Q J 10 2

{club} J 2

WEST

{spade} 7

{heart} Q 10 7

{diam} K 9 8 7

{club} K Q 6 5 3

EAST

{spade} 10 8

{heart} 9 8 6

{diam} 6 5 4 3

{club} 10 9 8 7

SOUTH (D)

{spade} A Q J 9 6 2

{heart} A K J 5

{diam} A

{club} A 4

The bidding: South WestNorthEast 2 {club} Pass 2 {diam} Pass 2 {spade} Pass3 {spade} Pass6 {spade} All Pass Opening lead: {club} K

Unlucky Louie says when his ship finally comes in, it'll be docked by the IRS. When he picked up the South hand in the penny Chicago game at my club, he was sure his ship had arrived at last -- tax-free. Anyone else would have tried for a grand slam, but Louie settled for six spades since he is seldom lucky enough to win 13 tricks.

When West led the king of clubs, Louie took the ace, pondered, drew trumps, cashed the ace of diamonds, exited with a club and waited for West to make a helpful return.

A club, conceding a ruff-sluff, a heart or the king of diamonds would have ended matters, but alas for Louie, West counted declarer's tricks. West knew Louie had a club trick, a diamond, six trumps and at most two hearts, so one extra diamond trick wouldn't be enough. West therefore led a low diamond.

Louie won in dummy and discarded a heart, but his ship had sprung a leak: He was sure to lose a heart.

How would you play the slam?

After Louie takes the ace of clubs, he cashes the ace of trumps and the ace of diamonds and leads the six of trumps to the king (preserving his deuce). Louie then leads the queen of diamonds for a ruffing finesse. If East had the king and covered, Louie could ruff high and get back to dummy with a trump to discard a club and a heart on the J-10 of diamonds.

When East actually plays low on the queen of diamonds, Louie throws his losing club. West wins, but Louie later discards two hearts on the J-10 of diamonds.

(c)2005, Tribune Media Services