To study the bidding — and also the passes — before starting to play is common sense. Continually ask yourself questions . . .

Dealer: South
Love All

North EastSouthWest

West led ♥AKJ, East petered to indicate a doubleton (a questionable play), and declarer ruffed the third round with dummy’s J♠. The contract can be made if West holds club honours or Q♦. Cashing A♣ and leading small towards dummy’s holding is a reasonable plan. However, the play to the first three tricks should make you change your mind. What do you now know? 

West holds six hearts headed by ace-king-jack. If he also held K♣, surely he would have overcalled 2H? Playing weak jump-overcalls, West might have ventured 3H, and similar inferences could then be drawn. Even Q♦ might have persuaded West to intervene. Instead, he passed. It now appears that East will hold K♣ and, probably, Q♦ also. With these inferences taken, what should be your line of play?

With the heart suit eliminated from both dummy and declarer’s hands, trumps can be drawn in two rounds and, now, declarer can eliminate diamonds by cashing ♦AK, before exiting with J♦. East wins and, if he leads a diamond, he provides a ruff in dummy and 7♣ discard from hand; if he plays a club, South can run this to dummy’s Q♣ and avoid the club loser that way.

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