Good, but not good enough
This Real Deal is slightly modified from one reported in the International Bridge Press Association Bulletin.
South opens 2NT with:
♠ A J 5 4 ♥ A Q 2 ♦ K 8 ♣ A K 4 3
North transfers to hearts and then bids 3NT. On the way to 4♥, South should make a careful bid of 4♣, showing a great hand in context for hearts and a control in clubs. Most days, North will just sign off in 4♥. Here, North control-bids 4♦ and South carries on to 6♥. The ♦J is led:
Looking at the losers from the long-trump hand (North), declarer can see a potential club loser and a spade loser. The odds-on approach is to work on clubs to throw the spade loser from dummy – a much better proposition than relying on the spade suit to throw a club.
Declarer won the diamond lead with the king and drew trump (West starting with four). How should he tackle clubs?
Rather than relying on a 3–3 break, the percentages favor finessing twice against the ♣Q–J. North’s ♣10 rode around to West’s ♣Q and back came a low spade. Declarer captured East’s king with the ace and went to dummy in diamonds to leave:
Dummy’s ♣9 was led and declarer got good news and bad news. The finesse was on, but East covered the 9 with the jack and the suit was blocked. Here is the full deal:
Declarer needed to foresee the club blockage. Believe it or not, he has to preserve entries to the 21-HCP hand! He should win the first trick in dummy (with, say, the ♦A) and pass the ♣10 to West.
Now it is smooth sailing. Declarer wins the spade return with the ace and draws trump ending in dummy. He leads the ♣9, and East can’t ruin the day. If he covers, declarer can win, cross to the ♣8 and come to the preserved ♦K for the good club, throwing dummy’s spade.
After winning the first trick in hand with the ♦K, there is no legitimate way to make the contract.