This deal was (mis)played in the 2017 Team Trials by a former world champion. Try your luck with his South cards:
♠ A K 8 6 ♥ J 5 2 ♦ — ♣ A K J 10 5 2
At unfavorable vulnerability, he opened the bidding 1♣ in second seat. Left-hand opponent overcalled 1♦ and partner made a negative double promising both majors. RHO made a constructive diamond raise and opener jumped to 4♠. Everyone passed and the ♦A was led:
Declarer ruffed the ♦A, played the ♠A K, all following, and then a spade to the queen, RHO throwing a diamond. Now what?
A club was led to the jack and the finesse won. If you try the ♣A next, you are down. Here is the Real Deal:
After the ♦A ruffed, declarer drew trumps. When a club to the jack held and the ♣A revealed the 4–1 break, there was no recovery. Remember that declarer ruffed at trick one, so he was out of trumps.
The winning solution was unusual. After the ♣J won, there was a 100 percent way to make the contract, assuming LHO didn’t sneakily duck the offside ♣Q. Declarer is left in this position:
Declarer wants to take another club finesse, but is stuck in hand. Laying down the ♣A (as we’ve seen) fails if clubs are 4–1. Leading hearts could lead to the loss of four hearts tricks, but not if done properly. Leading a low heart to the queen and East’s ace costs the loss of four heart tricks – East wins the ace and returns a heart. The sure way not to lose four heart tricks is, in the diagrammed position, to play a low heart from both hands. The ♥J also will do, but it isn’t as obvious. Whatever the opponents do – even if they can take three heart tricks – they then have to give you access to a repeat club finesse and 10 tricks. On the actual layout, you’d end up with 11.