Forgive the grandiloquent title: We are not talking here about Lewis and Clark, nor the HMS Beagle, nor even Christopher Columbus. We merely refer to Declarer’s intelligent (but hardly epic) play of the K♣ in the following deal:
Just in case it happens to be a really useful clue, we should point out that East’s 1NT showed 15 to 17 HCP.
The defense cashes three Hearts, then East shifts to the A♦ followed by a low Diamond. How do you play the trump suit?
All things being equal, you would play a Spade over to the King and then finesse the Jack on the way back. This might seem even more appealing when you remember that East opened 1NT and, therefore, has most of the missing HCP. But remember also that East has already shown up with AKQ♥ and A♦. That’s 13 HCP. So, you can see that if East has the A♣ that gives him 17 HCP and no room for the Q♠ … and if East does not have the A♣ then he must have the Q♠ for his 1NT opening.
What’s needed here is a so-called “discovery play” before tackling trumps. After winning the Diamond return, you play the K♣ in order to smoke out the Ace. When East shows up with that card, he’s up to his maximum quota of 17 HCP, and now it’s a certainty that West has the Q♠. That being the case, you ruff East’s Club return and take an immediate finesse of the 9♠! The K♠ is now cashed, then it’s back to hand with a Club ruff (fortunately there is no overruff from West). The remaining trump is extracted, and it’s eight tricks for those who did some counting and discovering!
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