After West opens 1♠, vulnerable, you get to 6♥ at IMP scoring. West leads the ♥9 from 10–9 doubleton (tricky). Whenever you get around to playing spades, East follows to the first round. Plan the play.
Surely West has all of the missing high cards, though the ♦Q is in some doubt. Win the ♥K, cross to the ♥A and ruff a diamond. Cash the ♥Q, discarding a diamond from dummy and duck a club. If West wins and returns a spade, finesse the jack, ruff a diamond and play the ♣A. If West follows low, he must have started with three clubs and three diamonds topped by the ace. Finesse the ♠Q and ruff a diamond, dropping West’s ace, and use the ♠A as the entry to the good diamonds. If the ♣K drops under the ace, meaning West started with a 5=2=4=2 pattern, you have reduced to this five-card end position needing all five tricks:
You play the ♣Q and West is squeezed. If he discards a spade, discard a diamond from dummy, cross to the ♠Q, cash the ♠A, ruff a diamond and take the 12th trick with the ♠10. If West discards a diamond, cross to the ♠Q, ruff a diamond, dropping West’s ace, and back to the ♠A where good diamonds await in the dummy.
If East wins the low club exit and returns a club, win the ace and, depending upon whether the king drops, proceed as above, either squeezing West if he started with four diamonds or ruffing out the ace if he started with three.
Thanks to Phil Clayton of Mission Viejo CA for this one.
(1) Natural, weak
West leads the ♦K. East plays the ♦7. Plan the play.
East figures to have the top hearts along with the ♣Q to justify the opening bid. Best is to win the opening lead (you don’t want to go down at trick two if East started with a singleton diamond), cross to a high spade and lead the ♣J. If East covers (best), win the ♣A and cross to the ♣K. If West follows with low clubs twice, you will need clubs 3–3 to prevail. Ruff a club high, draw two more rounds of spades ending in dummy, and either take two winning clubs or wind up down two. On a brighter note, if West plays the ♣9 or ♣10 on the second round of clubs, win the king, draw two more rounds of spades ending in dummy and run the ♣8 if not covered. You win whenever East started with ♣Q 10 x x or ♣Q 9 x x and lose when East started with ♣Q x x and West with ♣10 9 x. The odds are greatly in your favor.
Thanks to Ron Fischer of Scottsdale AZ for this problem.