N-S vulnerable

NORTH (D)

{spade} A Q 9 6

{heart} A K 3

{diam} 6 5

{club} J 10 8 3

WEST

{spade} 8 4

{heart} Q 9 6 2

{diam} 9 8 7 3

{club} A Q 7

EAST

{spade} 5 2

{heart} J 7

{diam} A Q J 4 2

{club} 6 5 4 2

SOUTH

{spade} K J 10 7 3

{heart} 10 8 5 4

{diam} K 10

{club} K 9

The bidding: North EastSouthWest1 {club} 1 {diam} 1 {spade} 2 {diam} 2 {spade} Pass3 {spade} Pass4 {spade} All Pass Opening lead: {diam} 9

Say you and I are in the lounge at my club. I write today's East and North cards on a napkin and challenge you to beat four spades.

When West leads the nine of diamonds, you take your ace and South plays the ten. What next?

You'll get no more diamonds -- West's lead denies possession of the king -- and no spades. Even if West has two club tricks, you'll need a heart, so he must hold the queen. Moreover, you must shift to a heart quickly since South may set up dummy's clubs for discards.

If West's hearts are, say, Q-10-6-2, you can shift to any heart at Trick Two. But if you lead the jack and find West with Q-9-6-2, South wins in dummy, draws trumps and leads a club to his nine.

West takes the queen but can't lead another heart safely, and South can force out the ace of clubs and pitch two hearts on the J-10. You must shift to the seven of hearts.

Sometimes the answer to a napkin problem stands out, but would you find the winning defense at the table?

Daily Question

You hold:

{spade} A Q 9 6 {heart} A K 3 {diam} 6 5 {club} J 10 8 3.

Your partner opens one diamond, you respond one spade and he raises to two spades. The opponents pass. What do you say?

Answer: To jump to four spades would be reasonable, but partner may have raised you with three-card support. To keep your options open, bid 3NT. If he has good spade support or a shapely hand, he can insist on a suit contract. If he has only three spades, he can pass.

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