1. You are declarer with the West hand at Four Hearts and North leads the king of spades. How should you play the hand?

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2. You are declarer with the West hand at Four Spades and North leads the queen of diamonds. How should you play the hand?

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1. Win the spade with the ace, lead a trump and, assuming that South follows low, finesse the Jack! This may seem ridiculous, but it’s the only way to assure the contract. If the jack wins, you make it least ten tricks; if the jack loses to the queen, you still have ten tricks. This is because North can then do no better than play the queen and another spade. You ruff, draw the one out-standing trump, lead a club to the queen and, let’s say, lose to South’s ace. When South returns a diamond, you win with the king, enter dummy with a trump, and discard your seven of diamonds on the king of clubs to produce your tenth trick. Note that if you fall to take the trump finesse at trick two, you go down against proper defense — if South has all the missing trumps. You would lose one trick in each suit.

2. Here, also, you can assure the contract against any lie of the cards. Win the diamond with the ace, lead a dub to dummy’s ace, and play the three of hearts towards your Jack! If South has the queen of hearts he can do no better than play it and return a trump. Even if the trump finesse loses, you lose only three tricks — two hearts and a spade. If North has the queen of hearts, he will capture your Jack but find himself unable to stop you from making four spades. A trump return gives you the contract if the spades are divided 2-1, and is also futile If they are divided 3-0. In the latter case, North could lead a trump at trick four, but could not safely do so again when you then played a heart to prepare for a heart ruff in dummy. Now let’s suppose that, instead of following the suggested method of play, you played a low heart to the king at trick two. You might then go down If It turned out that South had the ace of hearts and returned a frump to his partner’s guarded king of trumps.