Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} A J 9 2

{heart} A 2

{diam} J 10 4

{club} A 9 8 2

WEST

{spade} 8 5 4

{heart} K 5 4

{diam} 9 8 7

{club} K 10 6 4

EAST

{spade} K Q 10 7 6

{heart} 6

{diam} Q 5 3 2

{club} J 5 3

SOUTH (D)

{spade} 3

{heart} Q J 10

9 8 7 3

{diam} A K 6

{club} Q 7

The bidding: South WestNorth East 4 {heart}(!) Pass 6 {heart}(!)

All Pass Opening lead: {diam} 9

It was the first of the month, and I found Unlucky Louie in the club lounge, morosely surveying a pile of credit-card statements.

"If I didn't veto half of my wife's bills," Louie sighed, "we'd be in the outhouse. Before we got married, I yearned for her; ever since, the 'y' has been silent."

Later I watched Louie try to make a profit in the penny Chicago game, but after today's deal, he was silent. Louie's bid of four hearts was born of desperation; he was losing, as usual, and was trying to recover.

North's leap to six hearts was even stranger.

Dummy's jack of diamonds held the first trick, and Louie led a diamond to his king and let the queen of hearts ride.

On the next heart, though, East threw a spade. Louie led a diamond to his ace and conceded a trump, and West then led a spade. Louie took the ace, ruffed a spade and ran his trumps, but he lost a club at the end and went farther into the hole.

How would you play the slam?

Louie is safe if he can avoid a trump loser; otherwise he needs a lucky spade position, a squeeze or an end play.

Louie should take the ace of spades at Trick Two, ruff a spade and finesse in trumps. When East discards on the second trump, Louie ruffs another spade.

The K-Q of spades haven't fallen, but Louie next takes the A-K of diamonds and exits with a trump.

West has only clubs left and must lead from his king.

"Your wife seems like a nice person to me," I told Louie.

"I asked for her hand and wound up under her thumb," was his reply.

(c)2005, Tribune Media Services