Both sides vulnerable

NORTH (D)

{spade} A 4 2

{heart} A J 7 6 3 2

{diam} 9

{club} K 7 4

WEST

{spade} Q 10

{heart} Q 9 5 4

{diam} 7 5 4

{club} Q J 10 8

EAST

{spade} J 9 8 5 3

{heart} K 10

{diam} A 10 6 2

{club} 6 5

SOUTH

{spade} K 7 6

{heart} 8

{diam} K Q J 8 3

{club} A 9 3 2

The bidding: North EastSouthWest 1 {heart} Pass2 {diam} Pass 2 {heart} Pass3 NT All Pass Opening lead: {club} Q

Ioften suggest delaying the play of a key suit until clues are available, but in some deals there's no other time like the present.

South refused the first club, won the next in dummy and led the nine of diamonds to his king. He continued with the queen, and East won and shifted to a spade. South won in his hand, cashed the jack of diamonds and conceded a diamond, setting up his fifth diamond. Still, he had only eight tricks: two spades, a heart, two clubs and three diamonds.

How would you play 3NT?

Good players hate to commit themselves early and also hate to stake a contract on a finesse. Nevertheless, South's best chance came at Trick Three: He must let the nine of diamonds ride. When the nine wins, South comes to the king of spades and forces out the ace of diamonds for four diamond tricks and nine in all.

The correct play wins when East has three or four diamonds including the ten: about a 31 percent chance. South's play was slightly inferior.

Daily Question

You hold:

{spade} J 9 8 5 3 {heart} K 10 {diam} A 10 6 2 {club} 6 5.

The dealer, at your left, opens one spade. Your partner doubles, and the next player passes. What do you say?

Answer: Bid 1NT, promising six to nine points with at least one sure trick in the opening bidder's suit. You can't pass for penalty with broken spades; you'd need a much stronger holding -- such as Q-J-10-9-8 -- as well as a few other values. Your second choice would be a bid of two diamonds.

(c)2005, Tribune Media Services