This week's deals have treated declarer's handling of single-suit combinations. To try your skill, cover the East-West cards.
You duck West's king of spades, and on the next spade, East discards a diamond. You take the ace and count eight top tricks. You lead a club, and when West follows with the four, you play dummy's six. You must lose at least one club but don't want to lose to West.
East wins and leads a diamond, and you take the king and cash the A-K of clubs. Alas, West throws a diamond.
Next you lead a heart. If West played an honor, you could take the ace, cash two more diamonds and exit with a spade, hoping to end-play West to lead from the other heart honor. But when West plays low, you play dummy's nine. You hope West had honor-x or honor-x-x.
East takes the jack, cashes a club and leads another diamond. You win, take the ace of hearts, lead a diamond to your hand and cash the king of hearts. When the queen falls from West, your ten fulfills the contract.
You hold: S 6 5 3 2 H A 9 D K 6 4 C A 9 6 2. Your partner opens 1NT, and the next player passes. What do you say?
ANSWER: North in today's deal responded with two clubs, the Stayman convention, and most players would have done the same. Since the spades are headed by the six, a case exists for a direct raise to 3NT. But the values are prime -- better for suit play -- and the extra trick a 4-4 spade fit might provide might prove vital.