Opening lead: 10 of hearts
Assume you’re in six notrump and West leads a heart. There seems to be very little to the play, so you win the heart with the ace and lead a low spade to the jack.
East takes the king and returns a heart to dummy’s queen. When you next play a low spade to the queen, West shows out, and you discover that the hand is not as simple as you thought.
You have 11 sure tricks, and your best chance for a 12th is to guess the two-way diamond ﬁnesse. If you’re a good guesser, you make the slam, but you shouldn’t really ﬁnd yourself in this predicament. With correct play at the start, you can guarantee the slam against any and all distributions.
The correct approach is to lead a low spade to the ace at trick two, deliberately spurning the ﬁnesse. You then return a low spade from dummy, and regardless of how the spades are divided, you have 12 sure tricks.
Let’s examine the actual case ﬁrst. East can’t afford to rise with the king, since that would hand you four spade tricks and the slam, so you win the trick with the queen.
Even though West shows out, you are still in ﬁne shape. All you have to do to ensure the slam is to lead a low diamond to the ace and ﬁnesse the jack on the way back. Win or lose, you have 12 ironclad tricks.
Had West held the K-10-x-x of spades, your task would have been even simpler. East would show out on the second spade, and you would have no trouble scoring four spade tricks, regardless of how West defended. The matter of a diamond ﬁnesse would never arise in this case, as you would have tricks to burn.
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