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Here's the full deal.

Dealer: East
Vulnerable: East-West

S: A K 2
H: 4
D: K 7 6 3 2
C: 8 5 4 2

West East
S: J 10 6 S: 9 8 4
H: A Q J 7 3 2 H: 10 9 8 6
D: 9 4 D: J 10 8
C: Q 10 C: 7 6 3

S: Q 7 5 3
H: K 5
D: A Q 5
C: A K J 9

Auction at my table (repeated for convenience):

North East South West
Pass 2NT Pass
3NT Pass Pass Pass

The West at my table, who is a very capable player, chose to lead the queen of hearts, won by the king, and that was pretty much the end of the story. Declarer, who could not take the risk that East-West might run their hearts, cashed the ace and king of clubs, then, seeing the queen fall on the king, cashed the jack and the nine. Next came the queen, ace, and king of diamonds, followed by the seven and the six on which declarer sluffed the five of hearts and the three of spades when the diamond suit split 3-2. The ace, king, and queen of spades reeled in the last three tricks, making seven.

As the east-west cards lie, the only lead that should produce a different outcome is the ace of hearts, holding the haul to six tricks, but that most assuredly is not a textbook lead. If West leads any other suit, declarer sluffs both hearts on the six and seven of diamonds. The seven of spades then becomes the South's thirteenth trick since the spades split.

In spite of that, here are the actual results.

No. of Contract & Result Score Matchpoints
Tables Declarer N-S E-W

2 3NT South +4 520 5.5 0.5
2 2NT South +3 490 3.5 2.5
1 4S South +1 450 2.0 4.0
1 3NT South +1 430 1.0 5.0
1 5D North Making 400 0.0 6.0

It's easy to see how a different auction would have produced a different contract. If South opens a textbook 1D, West naturally overcalls -- but is the overcall 1H or 2H? Over 1H, North likely bids 2D handing South the choice between 3NT and 5D. Over 2H, North more likely doubles, East raises to 4H on the Law of Total Tricks, and North most likely guesses to bid 4S.

It's interesting that 3NT declared by North would be a disaster. East's indicated lead is the ten of hearts on just about any auction. If covered with the king, West overtakes. Supposing West continues with the queen, east knows to unblock the suit by playing either the 8 or the 9 when North shows out -- and if East fails to do so, South also knows to play small and to overtake the return. If the South hand does not cover the 10, west follows low, overtakes the king on the second round, and proceeds to run the suit. Either way, East-West take the first six tricks, setting the contract two tricks for 100 points and a top.

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