(1) 5=4 in the majors, game forcing.
West leads the ♦4, fourth best. You play the jack from dummy. East plays the 2, standard count. Plan the play.
You start with eight tricks and have multiple chances for more. The idea is to keep East from getting in for a killing diamond return.
Start with a low spade from dummy. If East plays something lower than the 7, insert the 7. Say it loses and a low heart comes back. Win the king, cross to the ♠K, reenter dummy with the ♣K and play the ♠A hoping spades are 3–3 or that the ♠Q is doubleton.
If that doesn’t work, lead a club to the 9, guarding against four clubs to the 10 or jack with East. You also bring in a ninth trick if clubs are 3–3.
If East plays a higher spade than the 7, win the king, cross to the ♣K and lead a club to the 9 if East plays low. Assuming West wins, you have four club tricks for nine in all. If East started with ♣J 10 x x and splits his honors, you have to fall back on the spade finesse.
West leads the ♦7, third from even, low from odd.
A. How do you continue if you go up with the ♦A?
B. How do you continue if you finesse the ♦Q and it holds?
Solution to A. Play the ♥A K. If hearts are 2–2, you have two appealing choices of continuations:
- Lead a diamond towards the queen. If West has the king, you have your 10th trick.
- Lead a low spade. If West plays low, you are cold regardless of who has the ♦K.
If East has the king and returns a diamond, ruff and lead a low spade. If the spade honors are divided, West must win and lead a club and East must have the king for you to go down.
Once East wins the spade, there is little he can do. If East returns a spade, dummy’s jack is your 10th trick. If East returns a diamond to partner’s king, the ♦Q is your 10th trick.
You might base your decision from these two options on the diamond East plays at trick one. If they are playing attitude signals and East discourages, leading up to the ♦Q looks good. If East encourages, a low spade looks better. If they are giving count at trick one, you are on your own as to who has the ♦K.
Take full credit if you led a diamond or a low spade at trick four. Zilch if you ran the ♣Q.
If hearts are 3–1, take the club finesse.
Solution to B. You still aren’t out of the woods, as hearts may be 3–1 with the club finesse off.
Cash the ♥A K, and if they break 2–2, go for the moon and take the club finesse, as the most you can lose is a club and two spades.
If hearts are 3–1, lead a low spade and hope West plays low, in which case you won’t need the club finesse. If he rises and leads a club, take the finesse. Otherwise, you have four losers.
There is something to be said for crossing to a high heart at trick two and leading a low spade at trick three. If the spade honors are divided, this earlier spade play might catch West off guard. Not knowing the exact heart position, he might not realize the need to rise and lead a club.
If East has both spade honors, you are cold regardless of who has the ♣K.
If West does rise and lead a club, you’ll be sorry you didn’t draw a second round of hearts before leading a spade. Now wouldn’t it be lovely to take the club finesse only to discover that West had a singleton club and hearts were 2–2 all along? Bridge is a great game!