Opening lead: jack of hearts
The expert’s chief stock in trade is his ability to reason well. His logic is seldom the deep sort, but rather the kind that can be more accurately described as plain common sense.
Consider this deal where it would be easy to go wrong. West leads the jack of hearts, covered by the Q-K-A. If South now plays the queen of clubs and finesses after West follows low, East takes the king and returns a heart to set the contract.
However, this would not be the right way to play the hand. The correct method of play brings the slam home.
The key to the winning approach lies in recognising that the trump finesse — tempting though it is — jeopardises the contract without increasing the chances of making it. Even if the finesse worked, the outcome would still hinge on a spade finesse.
What it actually boils down to is that if East has the king of spades, the slam can be made, while if West has the king of spades, the slam is lost. Taking the trump finesse is an optical illusion, because the location of the king of trumps has nothing to do with making the slam.
Declarer should therefore lead the queen of clubs at trick two and go up with the ace after West follows low. He then returns the queen of spades, planning to finesse.
Whether East covers the queen or jack with his king makes no difference. Whatever East does, declarer cashes three spade tricks as soon as possible, discarding a heart from dummy, and all he can lose from that point on is a trump trick.
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