Both Vulnerable, South deals

Opening lead: Queen of  hearts

While the average player can’t wait to take a finesse, experienced technicians will do everything possible to avoid it. The two aces and ruffing value in clubs just make the North hand worth an invitational raise. South had something to spare for the raise to game.

West led the queen of hearts, and declarer could count nine tricks. The ace-queen of diamonds was the obvious source of the 10th trick.

Although South had the option of finessing, wouldn’t it be better if West led the suit for him? For this idea to succeed, East had to be kept off lead to prevent a play through the queen of diamonds. Declarer’s first move was to play low from dummy at trick one. East could not afford to overtake with the king since that would expose the jack of hearts to a finesse. West continued with the nine of hearts. Declarer rose with dummy’s ace and led a low club, inserting the jack when East followed low and losing to West’s queen.

West exited with a club to the bare ace, setting the stage for declarer. South led a spade to the ten and ruffed a heart high. Another trump to the jack was the entry to lead the ten of hearts. When East discarded a club on this trick, declarer sluffed the four of diamonds, permitting West to win the trick.

Down to nothing but minor-suit cards, West was faced with a Hobson’s choice. A diamond return would be into declarer’s ace-queen, while a club would permit declarer to ruff in one hand while discarding a diamond from the other.

Either way, the defenders would present South with the fulfilling trick.