This hand is from the Bobby Evans Senior Teams at the Spring Nationals in Sydney. The auction to the best spot is simple with South showing a hand in the range 18-19 and North offering a choice between the heart game and the no trump game. The 3H bid shows exactly five hearts for the moment but with a sixth card, North will correct 3NT to 4H. The opening lead is the 6S and the first issue is whether to put the 10S up or not. What do you think?
If East has the AS then South has two stoppers so declarer needs to take care of West having it and having led fourth best. This means West would hold AJ86 or AJ96 or A986 (and perhaps a fifth card), so which is it? The answer is that you can’t tell but two of the holding contain the jack and one doesn’t so, a priori, it is twice as good to rise with the 10S. This card holds and East plays a count card. He does not need to signal attitude since he cannot beat the ten! Now how will you proceed?
Declarer now has two tricks in each of spades, diamonds and clubs and one in hearts and needs to develop two more. Clubs can only provide one but hearts and diamonds both might provide two. If the diamonds are played first and the QD is onside, the contract always makes. If the finesse loses, there are some residual chances such as a doubleton QC or stripping the minors and hoping to endplay the person with the long spades to lead away from the heart king. The other chance is to lead towards the QH at trick two. If the king is onside and ducked, declarer changes to playing diamonds to guarantee the contract. If East rises with the king, declarer can unblock the hearts and, when in with the KD, can try for hearts 3-3 before falling back on the diamond finesse. If the KH is with West, declarer can fall back on two diamond finesses. As usual, combination of two chances in the correct order is the best line but you need to be careful at trick one so that you have two stoppers in spades.