N-S vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} A 6 3

{heart} A J 5 2

{diam} A J 3

{club} 6 4 3

WEST

{spade} Q J 10 7

{heart} 10 9 7 6

{diam} Q 9 5

{club} K 8

EAST

{spade} 8 5 4

{heart} Q 8

{diam} 10 8 7 2

{club} Q J 10 9

SOUTH (D)

{spade} K 9 2

{heart} K 4 3

{diam} K 6 4

{club} A 7 5 2

The bidding: SouthWestNorthEast1 {club} Pass 1 {heart} Pass1 NT Pass3 NT All Pass Opening lead: {spade} Q

Today's declarer had a great opportunity to land a vulnerable game -- but blew it. Opportunity would have to advertise to get some people's attention.

South refused the first spade, won the next spade with the king and led a heart to the jack. East won and led his last spade, and South won and took the K-A of hearts. When East discarded, South led a diamond to his king and a diamond to dummy's jack. That finesse won, but South still took only eight tricks: two spades, three diamonds, two hearts and a club.

South should start with a discovery play: He leads a diamond to the jack at Trick Three to learn how many diamond tricks he has. If the finesse lost, South could try for four heart tricks by finessing with the jack.

When the diamond finesse wins, South has eight tricks and must develop only one more. South has options such as testing the clubs, but if he attacks the hearts, he should take the A-K and then lead toward the jack, guarding against Q-x with East.

Daily Question

You hold:

{spade} A 6 3 {heart} A J 5 2 {diam} A J 3 {club} 6 4 3.

Your partner opens one spade, and the next player overcalls two clubs. What do you say?

Answer: Modern experts would solve this problem with a "negative double": A double would suggest length in hearts and enough strength to act but no suitable bid. If you and your partner haven't agreed to use negative doubles, temporize with a response of two diamonds, planning to support the spades next.

(c)2005, Tribune Media Services