North ♠ A J 6 5 4 ♥ A Q ♦ 3 2 ♣ J 8 3 2 South ♠ K 3 2 ♥ 8 ♦ A 9 5 ♣ A K Q 10 9 5

After you open 1♣ and jump to 3♣ after partner’s 1♠ response, partner leaps to 6♣. West leads the Q. Clubs are 2-1. Plan the play.

You have two suits with finesse possibilities to play around with, spades and hearts, but be reminded, if the opponents get in they will cash a diamond!

If the heart finesse works, you can discard a spade on the A, probably set up the spades for two diamond discards and chalk up an overtrick. If spades cannot be established for two discards, you will concede a diamond and ruff your remaining diamond. Easy enough if the heart finesse works, what if doesn’t. They cash a diamond and down you go and maybe the spade finesse was right all along!

If the spade finesse works, and the suit breaks 3-2, you have 13 tricks; and if the suit breaks 4-1, you can concede a diamond, ruff a diamond and make your slam without worrying about who has the K. But if the spade finesse loses, they take a diamond and down you go. So which finesse should you take? Neither just yet, it was a trick question.

You can increase your chances dramatically by playing the ♠A K to see if the queen drops singleton or doubleton (33%). If it doesn’t, take the heart finesse. This must be better than guessing which finesse to take. Besides, testing spades keeps you alive for the heart finesse. Your chance of making this hand by first playing the ♠A K and then taking the heart finesse, if necessary, is a bit more than 65%, better than a taking a spade finesse after cashing the king first.

Tip: When you can’t afford to give up the lead and you have two finesse suits, one missing a queen, the other a king, and if you pick the right one you will make your contract, don’t try either! Play the ace-king of the suit missing the queen, and if the queen doesn’t drop, try a finesse in the suit missing the king.

Incidentally, if the contract were 7♣, you should play the same.

 ♠ A J 6 5 4 ♥ A Q ♦ 3 2 ♣ J 8 3 2 ♠ 8 7 ♠ Q 10 9 ♥ K 9 6 3 2 ♥ J 10 7 5 4 ♦ Q J 8 7 ♦ K 10 6 4 ♣ 6 4 ♣ 7 ♠ K 3 2 ♥ 8 ♦ A 9 5 ♣ A K Q 10 9 5

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