Each of these slam contracts has a similar trump holding with a potential finesse for the king.As South, see if you can find the winning plays.
You ruff the first trick. What next?
With nine cards, it is normal to finesse for a king, but you have to consider more than a single suit. Dont miss the forest for the trees! After ruffing the club lead, if you next led a trump you would fail.
The main concern is to establish your diamond suit. Win the A and ruff a diamond (save the king for later). Next lead a low trump, willing to concede the trick to the king. Regardless of the defense, you can ruff another diamond with the ace and draw trumps; the rest of your diamonds will be good.
West held: 2 10-8-7-6 Q-10-9-2 A-K-10-8
After winning the A, what next?
Even with 10 cards, finessing for the king is the percentage play if we consider just a single suit, but once again the entire deal dictates otherwise. If you lost the spade finesse, youd have to guess the Q.
The best technique is to cash the A at trick two, then lead the Q (maybe West will cover) to the ace. Assume both follow and the king does not drop. Next ruff a diamond; ruff the third club and ruff dummys last diamond. Finally, exit with a trump, and whoever wins the trick will be endplayed.
West held: 2 7-6-5 K-J-8-7-3 Q-J-10-5
You win the A and A. What next?(If you lead Q, West plays 7)
Your trumps are getting longer! With 11 cards you should normally play to drop a missing king; but strangely enough, this time you can almost insure your slam by taking the finesse.
Lead a club to your ace, cross in diamonds and cash the remaining clubs. Well, almost: On the last club you must ruff to reach your hand. Next, lead the Q and, if West follows low, let it ride. If East wins a blank king, he will be endplayed. If West shows out on the Q, win A and lead another spade for the same endplay.
West held: K-7 7-6-5 J-10-9-4 9-8-7-5
© 2001 Richard Pavlicek