See if you can do better than a 30-time national champion on this deal from the 2017 Vanderbilt teams. At unfavorable vulnerability, South held:
♠ K 7 ♥ K Q J 9 8 4 ♦ 6 3 2 ♣ K Q
His partner opened 1♦ and right-hand opponent, a known sound player, overcalled 2♦, Michaels. Maybe a direct 3NT is possible, but South doubled to show penalty interest (but even in his wildest dreams, the opponents won’t play in hearts). LHO bid 3♠ and this is passed back to South, who now tries 3NT. Everyone passes.
Surprisingly, the opening lead is the ♦10 (standard) and you see:
What is going on? Why didn’t they lead a spade? How will you play?
With any normal spade holding, like Q–x–x–x or J–x–x–x, West would have led a spade. Likely he has the ♠A and knew from the bidding that you had the ♠K. Had he led a spade, you would have had nine top tricks if the diamond finesse is on. With this clever lead, even if the diamond finesse wins, you have only eight. A 3–3 diamond break would see you to nine, but that’s highly unlikely.
Our expert took the diamond finesse at trick one. That was fine – in fact on dummy’s ♦J, East follows suit with the ♦4. Next, declarer played a heart from dummy, trying to sneak his ninth trick. RHO was up to the task. He rose with the ♥A and shifted to the ♠Q to set the contract. This was the Real Deal:
Granted, East made a good play when he grabbed his ♥A, but declarer shouldn’t have allowed him the chance. The bidding and lead gave him a roadmap to the winning line. Declarer should cross in clubs at trick two and repeat the diamond finesse. Next come all the clubs and the ♦ A to leave:
Declarer plays his losing diamond from dummy and West has to lead from his ♠A after all.