There are times when we must go to great lengths to keep a Danger Hand off lead.
(1) Michaels cuebid, 5-5 in the majors
East stretched a point or two to raise partner over North’s intervention, and did well to remove 3NT to the minor suit game: 3NT has no play on a heart lead. The king of hearts is less threatening against 5C, but there are still problems. If South gets on lead he will switch to spades and North will make two tricks there. To make 11 tricks you must develop the diamond suit without letting South on lead. How will you play?
You have four trump tricks in hand plus two heart ruffs in dummy, and three more tricks in red suit aces and kings. You cannot make your contract if diamonds break 4-1 (unless South actually has the ace of spades, which is unlikely), so you should assume a 3-2 break. If you bash out ace-king and another diamond you will establish the suit, but the chances are that South will win the third round. There is an avoidance play available – you must lead diamonds from dummy and try to duck a diamond to North. This will be possible provided he has one of the significant diamonds, the queen, jack or nine.
Declarer played the king of clubs, and a club to dummy’s queen, on which North discarded a spade. He led the seven of diamonds from dummy, South produced the nine, so he won the ace. He returned to the ace of clubs to lead the eight of diamonds, and when South played the six he allowed North to win his jack. He ruffed the heart return, cashed the king of diamonds, and ruffed his last heart to dummy to cash two more diamonds, discarding spades.
Note how important it is to make use of all dummy’s entries – if declarer draws three rounds of trump before starting diamonds he is an entry short and the avoidance play does not work.