N-S vulnerable


{spade} A Q 7 2

{heart} K 7 4

{diam} J 7 5 2

{club} 10 5


{spade} J 10

{heart} J 9

{diam} Q 10 8 4

{club} K J 8 7 2


{spade} 9 8 4 3

{heart} 10 8 6 2

{diam} K 9 3

{club} Q 9


{spade} K 6 5

{heart} A Q 5 3

{diam} A 6

{club} A 6 4 3

The bidding: SouthWestNorthEast1 NT Pass 2 {club} Pass2 {heart} Pass 3 NT All Pass Opening lead: {club} 7

"My regular partner's defense is unbearable," a player told us in the club lounge.

Cy the Cynic, who has had dozens of "regular" partnerships and has no patience with partner-bashers, had a fitting retort: "In that case," said Cy, "maybe you're the bear."

Today's deal had caused the trouble. West, the complainer, led a club against 3NT, and East played the queen. South took the ace, huddled and returned a club.

"I took the jack and then the king," West told us, "and my partner threw a spade, giving South four spade tricks and his contract: After I ran the clubs, South had nine tricks.

"My partner must keep 'parity.' He must keep four spades since dummy has four, and four hearts since South bid hearts. His spade discard was horrible."

Who erred?

Bear with me: Analysis doesn't bear out West's argument. East didn't bear up well, but if West had been bearing down, he'd have saved his partner. When South invited West to cash his club tricks, it could only mean that South had eight tricks and hoped to set up a squeeze.

When West ran the clubs, East could throw three diamonds safely, but when South won the next trick, he'd cash the ace of diamonds, forcing East to discard from a major suit and concede the ninth trick. (Actually, the defenders were unlikely to prevail even after West took his third club trick.)

West should refuse to help South: When West wins a club at Trick Two, he should shift, perhaps to a diamond. South will have no chance.

(c)2005, Tribune Media Services