N-S vulnerable


{spade} 6 4

{heart} Q J 8 7 3

{diam} A K 9

{club} J 5 2


{spade} Q 10 8 2

{heart} 5

{diam} Q 7 6 3

{club} Q 10 8 7


{spade} K J 7 3

{heart} K 10 6 2

{diam} J 8 4

{club} 6 4


{spade} A 9 5

{heart} A 9 4

{diam} 10 5 2

{club} A K 9 3

The bidding: NorthEastSouthWestPassPass1 NT Pass 2 {diam} Pass2 {heart} Pass3 NT All Pass Opening lead: {club} 7

The Spingold Teams, the premier event at the ACBL Summer Championships, is a test of stamina as well as skill. After seven days of effort, the players may be mentally and emotionally drained even if they're on a six-player team. (Only four players compete at a time.) The 2005 title went to Russ Ekeblad, Mike Becker, Fred Gitelman, Eric Greco, Geoff Hampson and Brad Moss. In the final they beat an underdog team headed by Tom Carmichael.

EKEBLAD took a first-quarter lead and could have added to it in today's deal. North's bid of two diamonds was a transfer, asking South to bid two hearts. When North bid 3NT next, South had the key decision: Should he pass with his balanced pattern or try four hearts with his three cards in hearts and diamond weakness?

CARMICHAEL's South bid four hearts -- and went down. EKEBLAD's South passed, but fatigue may have accounted for his play at 3NT. West led a club, and South put up dummy's jack. He next led a heart to the ace and another heart.

South was safe if the missing hearts divided 3-2. When they broke 4-1, he'd have succeeded if West had held four or the bare ten or king -- seven of 10 cases. But when West had a low singleton, South went down, losing two hearts and three spades.

South's correct play was to let the queen of hearts ride at Trick Two. If it won, he'd lead low to his nine next as a safety play. South would win four heart tricks in nine of 10 cases, failing only if West had the singleton king.

(c)2005, Tribune Media Services