Test your play
1. You are declarer with the West hand at Seven Diamonds, and North leads the jack of hearts. How would you play the hand?
2. You are declarer with the West hand at Three Notrump, and North leads the three of spades. How would you play the hand?
1. Win the heart with the ace and discard the ace of spades on it! Then play the K-Q of spades, discarding two clubs. There is a 93% chance of the opposing spades dividing either 4-3 or 5-2, which is all you need for this line of play to succeed.
It would be wrong to play the ace of hearts at trick one and discard a club, leaving you to rely on either a successful club finesse (a 50% chance) or, even worse, on the hope that cashing the A-K of clubs at some later stage would drop the queen.
2. It would be a mistake to win the spade lead with the ace, cash the king of diamonds, then cross to dummy’s king of spades in the hope of finding the missing diamonds di- vided 3-2. This would amount to staking the outcome solely on a favourable diamond division. While it is true that the diamonds are likely to be divided 3-2, there is no need to put all your eggs in this one basket.
A better line of play is to win with the ace of spades, lead the king of diamonds and overtake it with dummy’s ace! Then cash the queen of diamonds to see whether both defenders follow suit. If they do, you can play a third diamond, thereby assuring 10 tricks (two spades, a heart, six diamonds and a club).
If the diamonds turn out to be divided 4-1, lead a club from dummy at trick four, planning to finesse if South follows low. This gives you a chance to establish your club suit and make four notrump if South has any of the following club holdings: the singleton king or queen; the doubleton K-Q, K-x or Q-x; the tripleton K-Q-x; or all four low clubs.