Dealer East E/W Vul

 6 Q 6 4 2 Q J 9 6 4 A K Q A Q 7 3 A K 8 10 7 2 9 8 6
 West North East South Pass 1 Pass 1 1 1NT1 Pass 2 Pass 3NT Pass 3NT End
1. 12-14

West leads the two of spades (low from three small in partner’s suit) and East plays the nine. How do you plan to make your contract?

Solution:

It looks like the spades are 3=5 and you need East to have the three missing spade honours. As most players would open the bidding if they had the ace and king of diamonds as well the posited spade suit you should play on that assumption. Suppose the full deal is something like this one:

 6 Q 6 4 2 Q J 9 6 4 A K Q 8 5 2 J 10 9 5 K 8 10 7 5 4 K J 10 9 4 7 3 A 5 3 J 3 2 A Q 7 3 A K 8 10 7 2 9 8 6

If you win the first trick with the Q and go after diamonds West will rise with the K to play a spade. After you win the ace of spades and discover that the hearts are not 3-3 the defenders will have five tricks.

The way to avoid this unpleasant outcome is to play a low spade at trick one.  If a spade is continued you should follow low again. If East plays a third round of spades you will cover that card and win the trick. When you play the ten of diamonds to the next trick whenever West will win the trick with the king but he will have no spade to play. After winning the heart exit you will play a second diamond to dummy’s queen and East’s ace. At this point you can claim nine tricks: two spades, three hearts, a diamond and three clubs.

You should observe that if East doesn’t continue spades at trick two or three you will be able to develop two diamond tricks you need to make your contract in some comfort.