1. Matchpoints. None vulnerable. West Deals.
♠ A K J 6
A K Q 5 4 2

♣ A Q 10

♠ 9 8 4
7 6 3
8 6 4 3
♣ J 4 3

 West North East South 1♦ Dbl 3♦ Pass Pass 4♦ Pass 4♥ Pass 6♥ All Pass

I bet you didn’t expect to be playing 6 when you picked up the South hand!
West leads the K. You ruff in dummy (East plays Q) and play the A K. West follows low to the first heart and discards a diamond on the second. Plan the play.

 ♠ A K J 6 ♥ A K Q 5 4 2 ♦ — ♣ A Q 10 ♠ Q 7 5 2 ♠ 10 3 ♥ 9 ♥ J 10 8 ♦ A K 9 7 ♦ Q J 10 5 2 ♣ K 7 5 2 ♣ 9 8 6 ♠ 9 8 4 ♥ 7 6 3 ♦ 8 6 4 3 ♣ J 4 3

It looks like West started with a 4=1=4=4 hand pattern that includes the &spades;Q and the &clubs;K. If you live the good life and find East with &spades;10 x, you can pull this off.

Exit dummy at trick four with the &spades;J. If West wins the queen and exits a diamond, ruff, draw the last trump, and play a high spade. When the 10 falls, enter your hand with the &spades;9 and run the &clubs;J.

If West ducks the &spades;Q, continue with the &spades;A K. If East ruffs the third spade, you have a spade ruff entry to your hand allowing you to run the &clubs;J. If East discards a club on the third round of spades and ruffs the fourth spade, getting out with a diamond, ruff in dummy, enter your hand with a trump and run the &clubs;J.

Finally, if East discards clubs on both the third and fourth spade, ruff the fourth spade, run the &clubs;J and lead a club to the queen. East will probably ruff, but that is the last trick for the defense.

Strange hand: If spades are 3–3, you’re a goner. You need 4–2 spades and since the queen doesn’t figure to be doubleton, you must play for the doubleton 10. The trap is not to draw three rounds of trumps and then lead the ♠J. If West has Q–x–x–x and ducks the jack, denying you a trump entry to take the club finesse, the contract cannot be made.

2. Matchpoints. E-W vulnerable. South deals.
♠ K Q 10
A 10 9 2
J
♣ A K J 10 3

♠ A J 9 8 7 2
K J
10 9
♣ 9 4 2

 West North East South 2♠ Pass 4NT Pass 5♣(1) Pass 6♠ All Pass

(1) One Key Card
The opening lead is the K. East plays the 8 and West continues with the 4 at trick two. Plan the play.

 ♠ K Q 10 ♥ A 10 9 2 ♦ J ♣ A K J 10 3 ♠ 6 ♠ 5 4 3 ♥ Q 8 5 4 3 ♥ 7 6 ♦ K Q 6 4 ♦ A 8 7 5 3 2 ♣ 8 6 5 ♣ Q 7 ♠ A J 9 8 7 2 ♥ K J ♦ 10 9 ♣ 9 4 2

It’s one of those hands where you want to give yourself the best shot by combining chances in two suits. Ruff the diamond continuation in dummy, cash a high spade, and play the K A and ruff a heart.

Assuming the queen has not appeared (and nobody has ruffed the second heart), cross to a high club, overtake dummy’s last spade, and run your spades save one. With the last spade yet to be played, this will be the three-card end position:

♠ —
10

♣ K J

♠ 7

♣ 9 4

If West is known (or suspected) to have the Q, West must discard a club on the last spade as you pitch dummy’s 10. When you lead a club and West follows low, play the king because West’s other card is the Q. This ending works particularly well when West was dealt the Q along with three low clubs as you pick off East’s doubleton queen. If you can’t be sure who has the Q, take the club finesse.

If East’s last three cards are the Q and the ♣Q x, he will discard the Q on the last spade, so after the club finesse loses, East must return a club and you are down one. If East’s last three cards are the Q and Q-x of clubs, you will take the club finesse and go down two. If that happens, don’t bother checking your matchpoint result on this board.