N-S vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} 7 5 2

{heart} A

{diam} 9 8 7 3 2

{club} A J 7 4

WEST

{spade} K 9 8 6 3

{heart} K 6 4 2

{diam} K

{club} K 10 3

EAST

{spade} A 4

{heart} 10 7 3

{diam} J 10 5 4

{club} 9 8 6 2

SOUTH (D)

{spade} Q J 10

{heart} Q J 9 8 5

{diam} A Q 6

{club} Q 5

The bidding: South WestNorthEast 1 {heart} 1 {spade} DblPass1 NT All Pass Opening lead: {spade} 6

In June I had the pleasure of playing at the Birmingham (Ala.) Bridge Club, one of the ACBL's outstanding clubs.

I was today's East. North's double was "negative." Against 1NT West led a spade, and declarer won the third spade. Since I'd shown up with the ace of spades, declarer might have played West for the king of diamonds, but instead he led the queen of clubs -- king, ace -- and tried a diamond to his queen.

West won and cashed two spades, and I and South threw hearts. West then led a heart to dummy's ace.

Declarer led a diamond -- and put up his ace. He next led a club, and West played the three. South took the jack and exited with a club to West's ten. West cashed the king of hearts, but declarer won Trick 13 with a heart. Down one.

South is down two if West puts up the ten -- "second hand high" -- on the second club. Then I take the rest. Invariably, 1NT is a tough contract to play and defend.

Best regards to my friends at the Birmingham club.

Daily Question

You hold:

{spade} K 9 8 6 3 {heart} K 6 4 2 {diam} K {club} K 10 3.

Your partner opens one diamond, you respond one spade and he bids 1NT. The opponents pass. What do you say?

Answer: This hand lacks "body," but the values are primary and the king of diamonds should be useful, hence you must force to game. Jump to three hearts. If your partner bids three spades next, you'll try four spades or 3NT. A bid of two hearts would be not forcing and not especially encouraging.

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