N-S vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} 8 4

{heart} K J 5

{diam} 6 3 2

{club} A Q 9 4 2

WEST

{spade} A 10 7 3

{heart} Q 10 8 2

{diam} 10 8 7

{club} J 3

EAST

{spade} K J 5

{heart} 9 6 4

{diam} Q J 9

{club} 10 7 6 5

SOUTH (D)

{spade} Q 9 6 2

{heart} A 7 3

{diam} A K 5 4

{club} K 8

The bidding: South WestNorthEast1 NT Pass3 NT All Pass Opening lead: {heart} 2

Despite his successes as an author and lecturer, Mark Twain struggled with debt. He said a banker is someone who will lend you an umbrella when the sun is shining but wants it back when the rain starts.

The sun shone brightly on today's declarer when dummy's jack won the first heart. But South next took the three top clubs, and the raindrops began to patter when West threw a diamond.

East won the next club and shifted to the jack of spades, and the deluge set in. South's queen covered, and West won and returned the three to East's king. A third spade went through South's 9-6 to West's 10-7. Down one.

South had an umbrella but forgot to use it. Even as the defenders' spades lie, South can lose four spade tricks only if the first lead comes from East. Since South needs only four club tricks, he should lead a club to his eight at Trick Two.

If West shifts to a spade, and East takes the king and returns the jack, South covers with the queen and is safe.

Daily Question

You hold:

{spade} Q 9 6 2 {heart} A 7 3 {diam} A K 5 4 {club} K 8.

You open 1NT, your partner responds two clubs (Stayman), you bid two spades and he raises to three spades. The opponents pass. What do you say?

Answer: I'd be inclined to bid four spades, especially if vulnerable. The hand has a minimum 16 points in high cards, but the queen of spades will be useful, and the other honors are aces and kings. With secondary values in a hand such as Q 9 6 2, K J 3, A K 5 4, Q J, I'd pass.

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