Hand of the Week
Partner’s raise to 4♠ promised some scattered values without an ace, king, singleton or void, and as he would make a second negative with less, you decided to jump directly to 6♠. West leads the ♥J, which you win with the ace. After both opponents follow when you cash the ace of trumps, how do you plan the rest of the play?
Your first step should be to draw the remaining trumps. Then, after cashing the ♥K and ♦A, you should advance the ♦10. When diamonds are 3-2, you will win the return, cash the ♦K and cross to dummy by leading the ♦7 to dummy’s 9. You can then discard the ♣8 on dummy’s ♥Q. You will make five trumps, three hearts, three diamonds and a club.
The reason for playing the diamonds this way becomes clear when the diamonds are 4-1, and no honor falls on the first round of the suit. The defender who wins the second round of diamonds cannot play a diamond without giving you a trick. Also, West cannot play a club for the same reason. While this line does not guarantee the contract, it does force an entry to dummy. You will need the club finesse unless West has four diamonds and only two hearts. Suppose the full deal is:
West will take the ♦10 with his jack and exit with a heart, as a minor-suit return would give you an extra trick. After discarding the ♦7 on the ♥Q, you will take the club finesse for the contract. This plan also works if East has four diamonds headed by the Q-J.
When an honor does fall under the ♦A, you will always make the contract! If the defender takes the ♦10, you will have access to the ♥Q via the ♦9 to pitch your club loser. When the ♦10 holds, you will play ace and another club. The defender who wins the trick will be endplayed. A diamond exit will give you a trick, a heart allows you to discard your remaining diamond on the ♥Q, and a club concedes the contract via a ruff and discard.