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ON BRIDGE

The diamonds in today's deal are foul (for South) and the club finesse loses. But as the late Jimmy Durante would have said, "Dem's da conditions dat prevail." Da question is, should South make da slam anyway?

South took the ace of hearts, drew trumps and played as safe as he could for three diamond tricks: he cashed the A-K before leading toward dummy's jack. East won and led a high diamond; and South ruffed, led a trump to dummy and returned a club to his queen. Down one.

"I'd make it over 90 percent of the time," South said.

"You had a sure thing," North replied.

After South takes the ace of hearts and draws trumps, he should cash the K-A of diamonds and next lead the jack of hearts, throwing his last diamond.

West wins but must concede the 12th trick: if West leads a club, South gets a free finesse; if a heart, South ruffs in dummy and throws the queen of clubs; if West could lead a diamond, South would play dummy's jack to assure a diamond trick.

You hold: 2 K Q 10 9 6 7 6 K 9 4 3 2. Dealer, at your left, opens one spade. Your partner doubles, and the next player bids three spades. What do you say?

A: Your opponent's bid of three spades is meant as an intimidator; with a good hand, he'd redouble. Since your partner promises strength and heart support, bid four hearts. If the opponents go on to four spades and partner doesn't double, you'll try five clubs.

South dealer

Both sides vulnerable
NORTH
Q 10 9 8
J 3
A J 4 3
7 6 5
WEST
2
K Q 10 9 6
7 6
K 9 4 3 2
EAST
3
8 7 5 4 2
Q 10 9 8
J 10 8
SOUTH
A K J 7 6 5 4
A
K 5 2
A Q
South West North East
2 Pass 3 Pass
4NT Pass 5 Pass
6 All Pass
Opening lead -- K

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