Both sides vulnerable

NORTH (D)

{spade} K 9 5 4

{heart} Q 8 4

{diam} K 6

{club} A K 7 5

WEST

{spade} 6 2

{heart} A 10 7 5 2

{diam} J 8 4

{club} J 10 9

EAST

{spade} A Q 3

{heart} 9 6

{diam} Q 10 7 3 2

{club} 8 4 2

SOUTH

{spade} J 10 8 7

{heart} K J 3

{diam} A 9 5

{club} Q 6 3

The bidding: North EastSouthWest1 {club} Pass1 {spade} Pass2 {spade} Pass2 NT Pass4 {spade} All Pass Opening lead: {club} J

I often wish my TV had a control I could use to turn up the intelligence level of the programs. (I tried the "brightness" knob; it didn't help.)

When bridge was all the rage, video games and the Internet didn't exist. People got mental exercise from games such as bridge. Then came television -- chewing gum for the mind -- and now our idea of an intellectual challenge is watching game shows.

Bridge teaches logical reasoning, among other skills. Test your defense by covering the East and South cards. When you lead the jack of clubs against four spades, South wins with the queen in his hand and lets the jack of trumps ride. East takes the queen and leads the nine of hearts, and South plays the three.

How do you defend?

At the table, West took the ace and returned a heart, hoping East could ruff. Alas, South won, forced out the ace of trumps and lost no more tricks.

The winning defense -- ducking the first heart to keep communication for a later ruff -- isn't as easy as chewing gum, but it's logical. South's bid of 2NT shows balanced pattern with about 11 points: South probably has a four-card spade suit. But if he had four hearts and four spades, he'd have responded one heart, showing his suits "up the line."

Moreover, South's play in trumps makes it likely East has the ace. If East had a singleton heart and A-Q-x in trumps, he'd cash his ace before leading his singleton, giving West no option but to win and return a heart.

(c)2005, Tribune Media Services