In a teams match, you open 2NT (20-21). After partner raises you to game, West leads a fourth-best ♠2. What is your plan for taking nine tricks?
The first declarer played low from dummy without apparent thought. East won the trick and took some time before continuing. South had advertised at least 20 HCP and dummy had 7. Considering that he had 10 HCP himself, East saw the futility of continuing with spades. The defense might be able to take one more trick in the suit if partner had the queen and either the jack or the 10, but that would not defeat the contract. East decided that it must be a better shot to play West for three or four clubs and a red-suit king or the club queen. So, after cashing the ♣K, East continued with a low club. Declarer won the trick with the ♣Q, then crossed to dummy in hearts to run the ♦J. West took this with the king and continued with a club. East won that trick with the ♣A and a club to West’s 10 defeated the contract.
At the other table, declarer did not immediately play to trick one. He wanted to plan the play first. Declarer counted eight tricks: the ♠A, four hearts and three diamonds. A ninth would come from one of the black suits, but declarer saw the danger in playing low at trick one: if East had the ♠K, he could shift to a club at trick two, something declarer would not welcome. Accordingly, declarer called for the ♠A at trick one and ran the ♦9 at trick two. West won with the ♦K and declarer claimed the contract: the defenders could take a spade and two clubs but that was all. South would make the ♠A seven tricks in the red suits and a ninth trick in a black suit. The full deal: