Hand of the Week
After the transfer and the choice-of-slams bid of 5NT, West leads the ♥10 to dummy’s king, East playing the 5. Once both opponents follow to the first round of trumps, what is the best plan for gathering 12 tricks?
All you need to do is play the minor suits for one loser. A good approach is to take the club finesse and, if that loses, fall back on the diamond finesse.
However, there is a subtle extra chance that improves your chances of success. After drawing one round of trumps with the ace, you should cash the ♥A. Unless the ♥Q has fallen, you will cross back to hand with the ♠Q to ruff the ♥J. Next you play the ♦A and lead a second diamond, planning to finesse East for the ♦Q.
If East has the ♦Q, you will have 12 tricks immediately. The same is true if West has a singleton ♦Q. What may not be immediately apparent is that you also win when West has a doubleton ♦Q, as in this case:
On this layout, when West wins the ♦Q, he will have only hearts and clubs remaining. If he exits with a club, you will make five trumps, two hearts, three diamonds and two clubs. On a heart return you will ruff in dummy and discard the ♣10 from hand. In this case you will make four trump tricks, two hearts, three diamonds, a club and two ruffs in dummy.
As this plan succeeds when East has one of the missing minor-suit honors or, as here, when West has a doubleton ♦Q. Playing this way gives a little more than a 5% edge over simply taking both finesses in the minors.