West leads the ♦J. East wins the ace and returns the ♦2 to your king. What do you discard from dummy, and how do you continue?
Clearly it is right to discard a spade from dummy. A heart discard gives up a possible fourth trick in that suit, and a club discard gives up a possible 12th trick if clubs break 3–2. Next, unblock the ♠K Q and cross to the ♣A Q. If clubs are 3–2, you have the rest. Of course, you wouldn’t be reading this if they broke 3–2.
At this point, six tricks have been played and you have the lead. How do you play if East has four clubs? How do you play if West has four clubs? In both cases, the defender with the singleton club will have discarded a low diamond on the second club.
If clubs are 4–1, you must find a 3–3 break in one of the majors. They both can’t break 3–3. If East has four clubs and four diamonds, he only has room for one three-card major. If West has four clubs, he is almost certainly 5–4 in the minors and must have three spades and one heart to keep possible squeeze options alive. The bottom line is that spades must be 3–3 if West has five diamonds given East’s ♦2 return.
If East has four clubs along with a presumed four diamonds, he must be 3=2=4=4. If so, you can squeeze West in the reds if your ♦8 is a threat against West, who hopefully led from the J–10–9. After testing the top clubs, discard two clubs from dummy on your presumed two winning spades. Then, the ♣K squeezes West in the reds in this four-card end position: Dummy has the ♥A Q x x while you have ♥K x x and the ♦8. West will have to give up his high diamond to save four hearts and the ♦8 is your 12th trick.
If West has four clubs and five diamonds, he must have three spades and a heart for you to have a play. This time the play is to squeeze West in the minors. Accordingly, discard a club and a heart on your winning spades followed by three rounds of hearts ending in your hand. Your last two cards are the ♦8 and a club, and dummy has the ♣K x. This time West has again been squeezed out of his high diamond, and your beautiful ♦8 allows you to make the slam. Had you started with the ♦K 7 x and East ♦A 8 x x, you would have been history.
Thanks to Howard Jacoby, San Diego CA, for this one.
West leads the ♣5, fourth best. East plays the king. Plan the play.
Take the trick! The diamond finesse is going into West, presumably the player with the long clubs. If the diamond finesse works, you have a reasonable chance for 12 tricks. If it loses and West started with five clubs, you are going down … unless the suit is blocked and East started with doubleton king–jack, the reason for winning the first trick. Cross to a heart at trick two and run the ♦J. On the run of the diamonds somebody with four spades might discard one or you might decide to finesse the ♠9 if West shows up with the 10 or jack on the second spade play. It is the percentage play and this is matchpoints, after all.