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Contract: 6 S by south. West leads the HK. Before you read on, plan the play.

Bidding comment: North’s 1 NT was forcing. South’s 2 NT is an artificial bid, showing a two-suiter with 15-16 hcp or a strong one-suiter with 18-19 hcp like the one above. 3 C by responder was an enquiry, with 4 S by opener describing the latter type. The idea of using 2NT is to differentiate between hands like the above type and hands with freak distribution, say, S K-Q-J-x-x-x-x H x D A-J-10-x C x, when you will rebid 4S directly after the 1NT response.

How the play went: Declarer won the opening lead and played three rounds of diamonds. When east ruffed the third diamond, declarer discarded his losing heart. East shifted to a club which the declarer won with the ace. When declarer confidently tabled the spade ace next, he received the jolt of his life, as west discarded a diamond. With no entry to dummy to finesse against the trump queen, he went down in the contract. The complete hands are:

Declarer was unlucky to find diamonds divide awkwardly for him, but he went down in a sitter. What is the correct play?

Play: Win the opening lead and play a trump to the ace in hand. When west shows out, enter dummy in diamond ace and finesse the spade ten, overtake diamond queen with the king and finesse the spade again, draw the last trump and claim. You lose just a heart trick.

Discussion: The diamond queen in his hand distracted the declarer as he was led astray. If it had been a small card, he would have played a trump at trick two and succeeded.

In actual play, east had all the four trumps and you could pick up the trump queen successfully by tackling trumps immediately. Suppose it is west who has all the four trumps, you should avail the discard before you drive out the trump queen. You would of course require the diamonds to stand up. Finally, suppose south had held S K-Q-J-10-x-x H x-x D Q-x C A-K-Q, it is only logical and eminently correct to avail the discard before you start the trumps.