Opening lead: Q
|You play low from dummy and East signals encouragment with the 9, denying the 10. At this point West knows you have the 10 and realizes it is too dangerous to continue the suit lest he set up the 10 as a trick. (If West continues with the jack, you cover with the king, East wins the ace, but now your ten is high. If West continues with a low spade, you play low and now the ace comes up and dummy’s king is good.) West, familiar with the position shifts to a low club. Take over from here.
You are in serious danger of losing three spade tricks and then there is the trump position to resolve. Say you take a winning finesse, draw trumps, cash your other winners, and you still have to play spades,but at least you make your contract. And you did take the percentage play in hearts, the finesse after cashing the ace.
Not so fast. What if the trump finesse loses and West exits with a non-spade? Now you have to play spades and will lose three spades and a heart. The solution is not to risk the contract on a heart finesse. The heart finesse may be the best percentage play in hearts, but it is not the best percentage play in the hand, the primary consideration.
Best is to play the ace-king of hearts leaving the queen at large (if it doesn’t drop doubleton), and then strip the clubs, the shorter side suit first, and then the diamonds. If a diamond is ruffed with the Q, that player will either have to lead a spade at the cost of a trick or give you a ruff and a sluff, also at the cost of a trick. If all four diamonds live, exit a heart and force a spade or a club return, either costing the defense a trick.
What can we learn from this hand?
1. When signaling encouragement with equal spot cards signal with the higher or the highest equal spot card. Your signal will deny the next higher spot card. In this example, had East signaled with the 8 at trick one, East would be denying the 9.
2. Take a good look at this spade position so you will recognize it when it comes up sitting West or South.
3. Sometimes with a 4-4 trump fit, it is better to cash the ace-king of trumps disdaining a trump finesse intending to use a possible outstanding queen as a throw-in card after stripping the side suits. This can be much safer than taking a losing trump finesse, having the player who wins the trick exit safely, and now no throw-in is available.
4. When stripping side suits prior to a throw-in, strip the shorter side suit first to avoid an early ruff follwed by a safe exit. Exactly what would happen here if you stripped diamonds before clubs.
Dlr: South Vul: N-S