# Puzzle This

Partner
♠ 10 9 4
J 9 8
Q J
♣ A Q J 10 7
You
♠ A K Q J 8 7 2
A
K 9 2
♣ 9 4
 LHO Partner RHO You 1♣ Pass 1♠ 2♥ 2♠ Pass 4NT Pass 5♣ Pass 6♠ All Pass

The bidding is not pretty. Partner opened an atrocious 11-count, and you took a mildly aggressive view with 4NT, Blackwood. When partner showed one ace (5♣), you bid the spade slam.

Your left-hand opponent leads the K, RHO following with the 2, as you win the ace.

What now?

View Solution

The opening lead tells you that LHO has the K Q, and the bidding tells you he must have some other values, too, namely the A and/or the ♣K. To make this contract, you’re going to need the ♣K onside. Another chance, of course, is that if the ♣K is on your right, you might still make it if RHO continues hearts instead of switching to a diamond. Here’s the full layout:

North
♠ 10 9 4
J 9 8
Q J
♣ A Q J 10 7
West
♠ —
K Q 10 7 6 5
A 10 8 3
♣ 8 6 2
East
♠ 6 5 3
4 3 2
7 6 5 4
♣ K 5 3
South
♠ A K Q J 8 7 2
A
K 9 2
♣ 9 4

If you draw trumps after winning the first trick and then take the losing club finesse, you will have given LHO plenty of time to signal with an encouraging diamond on the run of the trumps. The best chance to make the contract, therefore, if the ♣K is offside, is take the club finesse at trick two. Your RHO may well continue hearts, allowing you to ruff, draw trumps and run the clubs, discarding your diamond losers.

Of course, if the club finesse wins, you can simply draw trumps and concede a diamond trick.

When, as declarer, you find yourself in a tenuous contract, it can be right to make a critical play early before the defense knows what’s going on.