In spite of partner’s aggressive bid, you’ve landed in a good contract. West leads the ♥K. How do you play it?
Win the ♦A, play the ♥Q and cross to the ♦K. (It’s important to end in dummy if East has four hearts.)
If hearts are 3–2, draw the last trump and concede a diamond. Say West wins and returns a club to your ace. Cash the ♠K, ♠A, discard a spade on a high diamond and ruff a spade. If East started with four spades to the queen, run the ♠J through East after discarding your spade. Only if West started with Q–x–x–x do you go down.
However, if hearts are 4–1 (C’mon, you really didn’t think they were going to be 3–2, did you?), you have to find the player with the long hearts with at least three spades so you can pitch your diamond on a fourth spade before the player with the four hearts can ruff in and cash a diamond.
If West has the heart length, cross to the ♠K and run the ♠10. If it holds and both follow, play a third high trump and run the spades. All you can lose is a trump trick. If the ♠10 holds and East shows out, lead a spade to the jack, cash a third trump and discard a diamond and a club on dummy’s two winning spades. If West doesn’t ruff, cash the ♣A K and ruff a club in dummy. No matter when West decides to use that trump, it’s West’s only trick.
If East has four hearts, run the ♠J. Assuming the ♠J holds, lead a low spade to the 10. If both follow, cash a third high trump and run the spades. If West shows out on the second round of spades, cash the ♠K, enter dummy with a trump and play the ♠A and a fifth spade discarding a diamond and a club. If East does not ruff the fifth spade, play the ♣A K and ruff a club. No matter what, all East can get is a trump trick.
Note: If East’s original distribution was 4–4–4–1, you have to start with the ♠J after drawing two rounds of trumps to make the contract.
After you (South) open 1♦ and West overcalls 1♠, you arrive in 6♦ with no further opposition bidding. West leads the ♥Q. You win the ace and lead the ♦K, East following low and West contributing the jack. Now what
Restricted choice tells you to take a diamond finesse, but restricted choice also tells you to be prepared if things go wrong. Accordingly, ruff a heart, cross to the ♣A, ruff another heart, return to dummy with the ♣Q, and lead a diamond to the 10.
If the finesse loses and West started with two clubs, West has no winning option. A heart gives you a ruff-sluff allowing you to ruff in dummy and pitch your ♠Q. A spade is no better as that goes smack into your acequeen. Finally, if West digs up a club, clubs are surely 3–3 so off go three spades from dummy on your winning clubs.
If the finesse wins, draw the last trump and test the clubs. If clubs are 3–3, chalk up an overtrick. This is a very strong field, so the other declarers will also take the diamond finesse, but will they have been careful enough to strip hearts and clubs first?
Thanks to Marshall Miles for this one.