N-S vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} K Q 10 3

{heart} A 10 5 4

{diam} A Q 3

{club} 9 2

WEST

{spade} 9 7 6

{heart} Q 8 2

{diam} 6 5 4

{club} Q J 10 4

EAST

{spade} J 8 5 2

{heart} 9 7

{diam} 10 9 7

{club} K 8 6 5

SOUTH (D)

{spade} A 4

{heart} K J 6 3

{diam} K J 8 2

{club} A 7 3

The bidding: South WestNorthEast1 NT Pass2 {club} Pass2 {heart} Pass5 {heart} Pass6 {heart} All Pass Opening lead: {club} Q

Unlucky Louie, who can afford to lose at bridge because he owns some apartment houses, carries around a huge ring of keys. None are labeled, and knowing Louie's luck, it's always the last key he tries that fits the lock.

When Louie played today's six hearts, he took the ace of clubs, led a trump to the ace and tried a trump to his jack. West won gratefully and cashed a club.

As the cards lay, Louie was a lock to go down: He thought picking up the trumps was the key to making the slam when he actually had extra chances.

Louie should win the first club and cash the A-K of trumps. If the queen fell, he'd be home. When both defenders play low, Louie tries the A-K-Q of spades. If a defender had J-x-x, Louie could discard two clubs, losing one trump trick.

Nothing good happens in spades, but it's always the last key you try that works: Louie next takes three rounds of diamonds. When both defenders follow, Louie discards dummy's club loser on the last diamond.

Daily Question

You hold:

{spade} A 4 {heart} K J 6 3 {diam} K J 8 2 {club} A 7 3.

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

Answer: A response of 3NT, promising a balanced 16 or 17 points, would not be a bad mistake, but experts use that response only with some 4-3-3-3 pattern because it consumes bidding room and makes slam investigation difficult. Since you have mostly prime values and two possible trump suits, your proper response is two diamonds.

(c)2005, Tribune Media Services