Tricky Maneuver

Dlr: South ♠ J 8 5
Vul: N-S K 6 5 2
A 6 5
♣ K Q 5
♠ A K 6 3 2
A 8 3
Q 7 2
♣ 7 3
West North East South
1♠
2NT 3 Pass 3♠
Pass 4♠ All Pass

1. At least 5-5 in the minors

Solution

The game was matchpoint pairs and this particular West was incapable of passing on two-suited hands such as the one he held. North cuebid in diamonds to show a limit raise or better in spades and went on to game when his partner signed off.

West did not want to lead either of his minors, fearing that to do so would cost a trick. As a singleton trump is usually an awful choice for the opening lead, that left him selecting the 9 to begin the play.

Declarer took this in hand with the ace to lead a club. West played low and dummy’s queen won the trick. After returning to hand with a low trump to the king, declarer led a second club.

West rose with the ♣A and exited with a club to dummy’s king. Declarer threw a heart from hand and now had to decide how to continue.

If West had a second trump, it would be difficult to succeed unless the queen of trumps was a doubleton. Instead, declarer went with the odds (as there were more hearts outstanding than spades) and cashed the K. When West followed with the 4, he was marked with an original 1=2=5=5 shape. This meant East had started with 4=4=2=3 distribution. Declarer’s saw that his only hope was to make the jack of trumps by reducing his trump length to two, one fewer than the number East then held.
So, declarer ruffed a heart low then crossed back to table with the A to ruff a second heart, reducing everyone to four cards. Then declarer exited with the Q. West took this with the king and tried to cash a second diamond. Alas, for the defense, East had only the ♠Q 10 9 remaining, and had to ruff the third round of diamonds and then lead a trump, ensuring that dummy’s jack of trumps would make a trick. Declarer took three trumps, two hearts, two heart ruffs, a diamond and two clubs for a total of 10 tricks. The full deal:

Dlr: South ♠ J 8 5
Vul: N-S K 6 5 2
A 6 5
♣ K Q 5
♠ 4 ♠ Q 10 9 7
9 4 Q J 10 7
K J 10 8 3 9 4
♣ A J 10 9 4 ♣ 8 6 2
♠ A K 6 3 2
A 8 3
Q 7 2
♣ 7 3