Hand of the Week
Going straight to 4♥ over 2♥ would have denied controls outside the heart suit, so 3♥ promised an ace, king or shortness (singleton or void). When North retreats to 4♥ over South’s 3♠ cuebid, it suggests North’s control is in spades. That being the case, you are content with game. How do you plan to make 10 tricks after West leads the ♠Q to your bare ace?
If you could swap the your ♠7 for dummy’s ♠8, you would have 10 easy tricks: two spades, six hearts, a diamond and a club. Still, 10 tricks are always available – as long you play correctly. Suppose the full deal is:
After drawing trumps, you should play the ♦K! If East takes this with the ace and returns a diamond, you play the jack. If West takes the ♦J with the queen, the ♦10 will be an entry to dummy. The situation is no better for West if he lets the ♦J hold. You will then continue with a third round of diamonds. West will have to take that and lead a spade or a club. A spade gives you access to trick 10 immediately, and if the return is a club, you will make certain of two tricks in the suit by playing low from dummy.
What would happen if West had the ♦A? If he takes the ♦K and exits with a low diamond, then either dummy’s 9 will hold or East will take it with the queen. As long as you unblock the jack in the latter case, you will have an entry to dummy.
The only other wrinkle happens is when the ♦K holds. In that case, you will continue diamonds, and the defense can do no better than cash two diamond tricks. We have seen what happens if West wins the defense’s second diamond. If East wins the second diamond trick and exits with a low club you will let that run to dummy, making certain of a second club trick. A spade exit gives you the 10th trick immediately, and a fourth round of diamonds achieves the same (you will discard a club from hand and ruff in dummy).
While there are will be other ways to make the contract double dummy no matter how the missing cards are distributed, all require some prior knowledge of how the minor suits lie, whereas the recommended line does not.