Originally published in BRIDGE Magazine. Reproduced here with permission of Chess & Bridge and Eddie Kantar.
Both sides vulnerable. Dealer: East.
Opening lead: Five of hearts
You can hardly be blamed for overcalling 4♦, but you would prefer playing 3NT to 5♦. Incidentally, you might discuss with your partner whether 4NT by partner would be natural after your four level minor suit overcall. In any case, no more time spent crying over spilled milk. Plan the play in 5♦ .
Your planning had better start at trick one! If you go up with the ♥A, you cannot make the hand! Why?
Clearly if you rise with the heart ace you will try to establish the clubs for a spade discard(s). All well and good if the club honours are divided. You can ruff a heart, draw trumps, and lead the king and a club to the ten if West plays low. East wins and if a spade isn’t cashed the ace of spades bites the dust and you make an overtrick.
If West plays a club honour on the second club, you must win and play a third club hoping East wins. However, if West has both club honours and East has the ♠A, you are slated to lose a club and two spades. You can do better.
Duck the heart and win the likely heart return discarding a club. Play two high diamonds leaving the bare queen in dummy and continue with the king-ace and a club trumping the third round. If clubs are 3-2, dummy’s clubs are high and the ♦Q is the entry to discard two spades. If clubs go 4-1, you must hope to find West with the ace of spades and lead up to the king.
Ducking the heart at trick one protects you against West having both club honours and East having the ace of spades, but you have to see all of this before you play from dummy at trick one! Take your time before playing from dummy to the first trick. You may see something that you could have overlooked had you played too hastily.
The full deal: