Hand of the Week
Given that hearts are 5-3, how will you make nine tricks after West leads the ♥K?
As only 14 high-card points are missing, West is certain to hold the ♠K. Thus, a finesse of dummy’s spade jack will give you eight tricks.
So, assuming West holds the ♠K, the problem reduces to looking for a ninth. One chance is that West holds a singleton or doubleton ♠K. In both cases you will make nine tricks as long as you do not have your ♠Q covered by the king.
So what can you do on the layout shown? Well, after holding up the heart ace until the third round and discarding a club from dummy, you make the avoidance play of leading a low spade from hand and covering West’s card. When West follows with the ♠6, East takes the ♠8 with the 9. East has no heart to return, so he will surely exit with a low club.
After you rise with the ♣A, you will play a second low spade. If West had started with a doubleton king of spades, it would appear and you would have the three spade tricks that you need, despite your early finesse of the ♠8.
The benefit of the deft play of the ♠8 on the first round of the suit comes about when West began with a tripleton ♠K. Here, after you successfully finesse dummy’s ♠J, the ♠K will fall under the ace and dummy’s ♠3 will be your ninth trick.
This approach gives roughly a 60% chance of making 3NT. No other plan approaches those odds.