N-S vulnerable

NORTH (D)

{spade} A K 3

{heart} 7 5 2

{diam} A 10 7 5 2

{club} A 4

WEST

{spade} J 6 4

{heart} K J 4

{diam} Q 8

{club} Q J 10 5 2

EAST

{spade} Q 10 9 8 5

{heart} 10

{diam} 9 6 4

{club} K 9 8 6

SOUTH

{spade} 7 2

{heart} A Q 9 8 6 3

{diam} K J 3

{club} 7 3

The bidding:NorthEastSouthWest1 {diam} Pass1 {heart} Pass1 NT Pass3 {heart} Pass4 {heart} All Pass Opening lead: {club} Q

I walked into the club one winter evening and found that our ancient heating system had conked out again. The place's customary warmth had given way to a meat-locker chill but, incredibly, the penny Chicago game was still going on. Two players wore earmuffs, and another was handling the dummy, as best he could, in gloves.

"They haven't missed a minute," an overcoated kibitzer told me. "It's a case of 'Many are cold but few are frozen.' "

Things heated up after today's deal. At four hearts South took the ace of clubs and led a trump to his queen. West took the king, cashed a club and exited with a spade to dummy's king.

South next led another trump. When East discarded, South took the ace, led a spade to the ace, ruffed a spade and exited with a trump.

He ruffed West's club return, pondered, led a diamond to the ace and returned a diamond to his jack. West produced the queen for down one.

"You booted it," North said heatedly.

"I had a guess in diamonds," South flared.

Was the contract cold?

At Trick Two South should take the ace of trumps. When both defenders play low, South cashes the A-K of spades, ruffs dummy's last spade and exits with a club.

The defender who wins must lead to South's advantage. If West (say) leads a diamond, he gives South a free finesse. If West leads a black card, South ruffs in dummy and discards a diamond, losing at most two trumps. If either defender leads a trump, South is sure of only one trump loser.

(c)2005, Tribune Media Services