OCCASIONALLY a partnership holds a large number of points but no game can be made against best defence. This is one such deal. North-South hold 29 points between them but cannot make any game. South had a difficult rebid. His choice of 3S was forcing - no problem there - but it ran the risk of missing 3NT. Perhaps the best idea is to rebid 3H. If North held four hearts he would doubtless have rebid 2H instead of 3C, so there is not much risk of a raise. A 3H rebid would allow North to bid 3NT if he had a diamond stop. Can you see how to defeat 4S? West led a diamond to Eastís ace and back came a second diamond to the king. Sensing that declarer might have an inadequate trump suit, West persisted with a third round of diamonds. If declarer ruffed in the dummy, he would promote a trump trick for Westís 10. He therefore ruffed in his hand, then cashed dummyís two top trumps. He returned to his hand with a heart and played a third round of trumps, but East showed out. Declarer had now lost control. The best he could do was to knock out the club ace and ruff the fourth round of diamonds, going one down.

What will you bid now?

Some players would rebid 4S but this is an overbid in my opinion. I think 3S is enough. This suggests around 16-18 points and partner will usually advance when there is a good play for game. If he holds the spade king and a red ace, for example, this is enough for him to advance. And, of course, such cards would often be accompanied by jack or so when the raise would become automatic.

Awards: 3S - 10, 4S - 8, 2S - 4.