New Zealand Listener - - DIVERSIONS - by David Bird

West leads the five of spades against 3NT. How will you plan the play? You should play the spade queen from dummy since this is the only chance of mak­ing a trick with the card. The queen wins and you have seven top tricks. The best place to seek two ex­tra tricks is the di­a­mond suit but you can­not af­ford East, the dan­ger hand, to win the lead. If you needed all five di­a­mond tricks, you would cash the ace on the first round and then cross to your hand to fi­nesse the jack. You would suc­ceed when West held Q-x or Q-x-x. Here you need only four di­a­mond tricks, so you can af­ford the safety play of cash­ing the ace and king on the first two rounds. The ad­van­tage of this is that you make the con­tract when East started with Q-x in di­a­monds. It does not cost you the con­tract when West started with Q-x-x or Q-x-x-x be­cause you will still score the four di­a­mond tricks you need. (When West holds Q-x-x-x you will cross to your hand to lead to­wards the di­a­mond jack on the third round of the suit.) Sup­pose the spade queen had lost to East’s ace at Trick 1. How would you play the con­tract then? You would then hold up the spade king un­til the third round and fi­nesse in di­a­monds to keep West (now the dan­ger hand) off lead.

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