Hand of the Week
(1) 5-5 in the minors, 6 to 9 points.
West leads the ♥9 against this dashing slam. After winning the ♥A, you cross to the ♠A, West following suit. What is your plan?
You have 11 certain tricks, and your plan for developing a 12th should be based on West’s holding the ♣K. Suppose the full deal is something like this:
One of the equivalent approaches on this layout is to cash the ♠K Q, cross to dummy with a heart to the king, removing West’s last major-suit card, and then run the ♦10. If West takes his ♦K, he will be endplayed, with only minor-suit cards left. If he leads a diamond next, you will make five spades, four diamond, two hearts and a club while on a club exit you will make five spades, two hearts, three diamonds and two clubs.
If West ducks the ♦10, you will play a diamond to the jack. Again, if West takes it, he must give you your 12th trick in whichever minor suit he returns, and if he ducks you will play the ♦8 next, to finally endplay West for a minor-suit return (a diamond gives you four tricks in that suit, a club return gives you two in that suit).
I hope your not plan did not include cashing the ♠J and ♠10 before leading the ♦10! You can spare a low club on the ♠J, but you would soon discover that there is no winning discard from your hand if you cash the ♠10 as well.
* Alternatively, on the given deal, you could just lead the five of diamonds provided you kept at least one spade winner in hand. However, the suggested plan also works when West has opened two no(X-X)trumps without the ♦K.