This hand cropped up in a country congress and has an everyday theme with a little kink. South is between a 1NT and a 2NT opener and so opens 1D intending to jump to 2NT over a major suit response but when North responds 1NT, South simply bids 3NT since it is clear that there is no eight card major fit and there is nothing obviously wrong with a no trump contract. West leads the clear-cut, fourth-best seven of spades and South takes the queen with the king. With only seven top tricks, declarer must tackle the clubs since it is the only single suit which might provide enough tricks for the contract. While it would be nice to play the king and run the nine, there is only one side entry to dummy so declarer needs to overtake the nine with the jack. When declarer cashes the ace of clubs, the queen does not drop since the clubs are not 3-3. Thus declarer must turn to the red suits for a ninth trick.
Should declarer try a diamond finesse which is better than 50 per cent, because of all the black cards that West holds, or play for the 3-3 heart break which is worse than its usual 36 per cent for the same reason? What do you think?
The answer is that this is a common theme of combining the chances of a 3-3 split and a finesse for a king but with a slight difference because of the lack of entries to table. Although declarer is on table after the ace of clubs was cashed, the correct action is to test the hearts. Normally, one cashes the honours in the short holding first but here, it is necessary to cash the ace and king of hearts and then the queen of hearts. Although the hearts are now blocked, declarer does know if the hearts are 3-3 or not. If they are, simply cross to the ace of diamonds and enjoy the thirteenth heart. If they are not 3-3 then declarer is forced to take the simple diamond finesse by playing up to the queen. Failure to combine the chances will lead to that most ignominious of fates of losing to an offside singleton king!