Test your play
1. You, West, are in Six Spades, and North leads the king of clubs. How would you play the hand?
2. You, West, are declarer at Six Hearts, and North leads the queen of spades. How would you play the hand? (Assume that the trumps are divided 3-2.)
1. You have only two entries to dummy, so you will be able to take only two finesses. The question, therefore, is whether it is better, after taking the ace of clubs, to finesse in trumps or diamonds. It is true that South might have either king, and to that extent either finesse has a 50-50 chance of winning. But as far as making the contract is concerned, you are much better off trying the diamond finesse.
If the diamond finesse wins, your worries are over, because your next move will be to play the ace and another trump, planning to repeat the diamond finesse later. If the diamond finesse loses at trick two, you can still get home safely if South started with the singleton or doubleton king of spades.
The decisive factor is that a trump finesse at trick two does not necessarily make the slam even if it succeeds, because South might have four or five trumps to the king, while the diamond finesse virtually guarantees the slam if South has the king.
2. Win the king of spades, draw three rounds of trumps and cash the ace of spades, discarding a club from dummy. Then lead a diamond to the king, and if both opponents follow suit, the contract is assured. Continue with the jack and, if South follows low, finesse.
If the jack wins, you make at least 12 tricks, while if it loses, the slam is still certain, since North must next either return a club into your A-Q or hand you a ruff-and-discard.
If South shows out on the jack of diamonds, you are still in good shape. Simply take the jack with the ace and concede a diamond to North, forcing him to make the same losing return.
For details about local bridge events, go to the HK Contract Bridge Association website.