Test your play
1. You are declarer with the West hand at Three Notrump. North leads the four of spades, and you win South's ten with the king. How would you play the hand? 1. The initial question is whether to tackle clubs or diamonds, but it shouldn't take long to recognise the futility of trying to establish clubs. If, say, you led a club at trick two, a spade would come back, and when you led another club, the defenders would cash enough spades to set you. You therefore turn your attention to diamonds, where you have to decide the best way to tackle the suit. Oddly enough, the correct approach is not to lead a heart to dummy first, which would force you to cash the remaining top hearts prematurely before trying a diamond finesse. Instead, you should lead a low diamond from your hand at trick two, postponing the diamond finesse until the second round of the suit. After winning the spade return at trick three, you cash the A-K-Q of hearts and then take the diamond finesse. If South started with two or three diamonds including the king – which is essentially your only chance – you are home. 2. It is impossible to go down unless you lose a spade trick (because South has the king) and a trump trick (because one opponent has all three missing trumps). The problem is to make the slam even if both of these conditions exist. Ruff the diamond ace and lead a low heart to the king. If both defenders follow, your troubles are over, as you can't lose more than a spade. Now let's assume one defender shows out on the first trump lead. If it's South, you can pick up North's queen with a finesse. If instead North shows out, you will eventually lose a trump trick, but you will still make the contract by playing the king of diamonds and ace of hearts followed by four rounds of clubs. If South ruffs a club at any point, he will be forced to make a losing return, while if he does not ruff, you next throw him on lead with a trump to accomplish the same result. Note that if you play the heart ace rather than the king at trick two, the contract fails if South has the king of spades and no hearts.