WEST leads the ten of spades against 3NT and East plays the queen. How will you play? You have eight top tricks and if the clubs come in you will easily bump your total to ten. You must arrange the play so you can survive even if the clubs break 4-1. Win the first round of spades. This will leave you with J-3 of spades in your hand, which will stop the suit effectively if West gains the lead. Next you cross to dummy with the king of hearts and cash the queen of hearts. Now comes the key play. You lead a low club from dummy and finesse the ten. You do not mind whether the finesse wins or loses. When the cards lie as in the diagram, the club finesse will win. That gives you ten top tricks and in fact you can cash the heart winners, followed by the clubs to catch West in an end-play for an eleventh trick. (If he keeps K-9 of spades and the bare diamond ace, throw him in with a diamond. If he keeps A-Q of diamonds and the bare spade king, throw him in with a spade.) What would happen if the club finesse lost to the jack? The safe hand would be on lead. He could not play a diamond or a spade without giving you an extra trick and on a passive return you would have nine tricks to cash. Note that it is not entirely safe to cross to the club ace to finesse in clubs. If this lost and a club came back, this would cause a blockage.

What will you say now?


You have a substantial stopper in the unbid suit, diamonds, and sufficient values to justify a game try. You should therefore look no further than 2NT for your next bid. A rebid of 2D would be ‘fourth suit forcing’, showing a strong hand on which the best denomination was in doubt.

Awards: 2NT - 10, 3NT - 5, 2D - 4, Pass - 2.

David Bird — Knight Features