N-S vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} 8 6 4 2

{heart} A 10 9 3

{diam} 4 2

{club} 7 5 3

WEST

{spade} J 9 7 5

{heart} Q J 5

{diam} Q 9 3

{club} J 4 2

EAST

{spade} K 10

{heart} K 8 7

{diam} J 10 8 6

{club} 10 9 8 6

SOUTH (D)

{spade} A Q 3

{heart} 6 4 2

{diam} A K 7 5

{club} A K Q

The bidding: SouthWest NorthEast 2 NT Pass3 {club} Pass 3 {diam} Pass 3 NT All Pass Opening lead: {spade} 5

"My husband's a Life Master," a fan writes, "and a much better player than I am. He says the biggest problem he faces at the bridge table is me."

My fan says West led the five of spades against her 3NT.

"I captured East's king and led a heart. West played the queen, and I played low from dummy to keep communication. West shifted to a club, and I won and led another heart. This time West played the jack, and I ducked again.

"I won the next club, led a third heart and had to guess whether to play the ace or the 10 from dummy. When I tried the 10, East won, and my husband's hair turn two shades grayer. Should I have guessed right?"

South should draw an inference (my topic this week). When South finessed on the third heart, she assumed West had started with K-Q-J-5. But if West had those hearts and four spades headed by only the jack, what would his opening lead have been?

South should have saved her husband some gray hairs by putting up the ace of hearts.

Daily Question

You hold:

{spade} A Q 3 {heart} 6 4 2 {diam} A K 7 5 {club} A K Q.

The dealer, at your right, opens one heart. You double, and your partner bids one spade. The opponents pass. What do you say?

Answer: Cue-bid two hearts. A cue bid here doesn't promise a control in hearts, only a huge hand. If partner's hand is hopeless, he'll sign off at two spades, but if he has any promising feature at all -- say he holds K J 8 6 2, 10 7 3, 6 3, 9 8 6 -- he should jump to three spades.

(c)2005, Tribune Media Services