Hand of the Week
West leads the ♥10 against your small slam. What is the best play for the contract.?
As you have 11 top tricks, the key point of the deal is to minimize the chance of losing two diamond tricks. Of course, you could rely on a simple finesse of the ♦Q, which in practice would only be a 50% chance (but it is much less than that in this class of problems!) Suppose the full deal is:
Your first move should be to cover the ♥10 with dummy’s jack, forcing the king or ace from East. You ruff in hand and play a trump to dummy’s king, drawing the outstanding trumps. You next lead the queen of hearts, on which you plan to throw a diamond if East plays low.
Assuming East covers the queen of hearts with his remaining heart honor, you will ruff and then cash your clubs, ending in dummy, to eliminate that suit. Finally, you lead the ♥7 and discard the ♦4 from your hand. On the above layout, West has to win the trick and surrender the contract with his return. A diamond will be into your A-Q and a fourth round of hearts (or a club, if he held one) would give you a ruff-and-discard. Either way, you will make 12 tricks.
You may ask, “What would happen if West began with the ♥K or East held the ♥8?” The answer is that you would be forced to rely on the diamond finesse. All these maneuvers in hearts achieved was to make certain of 12 tricks when West began with ♥10 9 8 and East with ♥A K.
As most players will play the king from ace-king at trick one, if East plays the ♥A, you might decide to place West with ♥K 10 9 x x. The endplay is now achievable by ruffing the ♥7 and endplaying West with dummy’s remaining heart honor.