This hand is a difficult one from the ANOT Teams event a few weeks ago. The auction is simple and it’s not clear whether 4H is better than 4S or not. When West leads the KD, it is clear that one of the diamond entries to the heart suit is vanishing immediately. There are also the problems of whether to take the heart finesse or ruffing finesse and how to take a trump finesse and how deep. Sometimes these hands work better by playing a ruffing game which was what was done at the table. Declarer put up the ace of diamonds and led a club on which East rose with the ace and the defenders played two more rounds of diamonds. It’s still not really clear what to play but declarer played ace of hearts and heart ruff then king of clubs and a club ruff. Now another heart and East discards a club so ruff with the eight of spades. Now cash the ace of spades and the fourth club is ruffed with the 9S and over ruffed by East with the ten.
Everyone is now down to two cards and East returns the four of spades. Do you play the king or the jack? There are two ways to answers this. The counting method notes that the hearts were 4-2 and the diamonds seem to be 4-3 and both defenders had four clubs to start with. Also West followed to the ace of spades and so West seems to be 1444 and the jack of spades is clear in that case. Is there any chance that West is actually 2434? This would require the opponents to perspicaciously false card on tricks one, three and four and so is unlikely.
However, there is simpler consideration which gets to the correct conclusion without all this counting! Clearly East has the four of spades and one other card. If it is the queen of spades, you must play the jack. If East’s second card is not the queen of spades (the thirteenth diamond here), he will return that and his partner will make the queen of spades en passant by either over ruffing the jack of spades or discarding the other card under declarer’s king. Much easier seeing it that way!