Before playing the key suit, ask yourself whether there is time to test the outside distribution. What is revealed may change your plan entirely.

Dealer:West E/W Game

Over a Weak 2 opener, to jump-overcall is strong, usually promising a 6-card suit. Here, South felt that this was the best option. North’s 4S raise was pretty thin. 

On A♥ lead, declarer realised that she would lose ♥AK and a heart ruff, so diamonds must be played for no loser. K♦ must be with East, and a singleton / doubleton K♦, or singleton / doubleton 10♦ must be dropped. At this point, she felt that West, with six hearts, was likely to be short in diamonds, so her plan was to play for West to hold the doubleton 10♦.

Having lost the first three tricks and facing a trump return, declarer tested her theory. She laid down ♠AK, preserving Q♠ in dummy. Next, she cashed A♣, K♣ and ruffed 7♣ in hand. This revealed an influential development: West had shown out twice, revealing her shape to be: 1 spade, 6 hearts, 2 clubs and therefore 4 diamonds. With the count complete, South now had one chance: to play East for the doubleton K♦. She crossed to Q♠, led 3♦ and finessed with Q♦. When this held, she drew the last trump, cashed A♦ and watched East, most unhappily, produce K♦. 4S made.

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