Think It Over

Dlr: South ♠ K 10 9 7
Vul: E-W 10 9 3
A 10 9 2
♣ 6 4
♠ A Q J 8
A Q J 7 2
♣ A K 5 2
West North East South
1
2 2 Pass 2♠
Pass 3♠  Pass 4♣
Pass 4  Pass 6♠
All Pass

You have reached a good contract, against which West leads the K. Plan the play.

Solution

Declarer saw that if trumps were 3-2, he would make 12 tricks in a canter. Not willing to place all his eggs in one basket, declarer turned his mind to protecting against a 4-1 trump break.
West was likely to have the K, so declarer saw that he would need to keep the A as protection against further diamond leads. With that in mind, before he played low from dummy at trick one and ruffed with the ♠8, declarer was struck by the thought: What can be done if West has only one trump and four hearts to the king?

Declarer came up with the winning, no-guess solution to making the contract on the above layout. He ruffed the opening lead with the ♠Q, led the ♠8 to dummy’s 10 and ruffed a second diamond with the ♠A. Next, he overtook the ♠J with the king and drew East’s remaining trumps with dummy’s 10 and 7, throwing two low clubs from hand. Finally, he ran the 10, which held. The 9 came next. West could do no better than win with the king and return a heart. As declarer had had foresight to ruff two diamonds, his hand was high: He had the three top hearts and the top two clubs remaining. Notice that if declarer had failed to ruff two low diamonds in hand, he could have made 12 tricks on the above layout only by guessing West’s distribution accurately. Declarer would have had to avoid the possibility of West taking the king of hearts on the second or third round of the suit and endplaying the South hand with a club or a heart, leaving declarer with a club loser. Ruffing two diamonds in the South hand took all the guesswork out of the equation. The full deal:

Dlr: South ♠ K 10 9 7
Vul: E-W 10 9 3
A 10 9 2
♣ 6 4
 ♠ 4  ♠ 6 5 3 2
  K 8 6 4   5
  K Q J 8 5 4   7 6 3
 ♣ Q 9  ♣ J 10 8 7 3
♠ A Q J 8
A Q J 7 2
♣ A K 5 2

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