Trying to avoid the finesse
At the club last night, Joel and I bid this 33 hcp spade slam and unsurprisingly, I was the only person who made only 6.
In our auction, the 1NT rebid showed 15-17, 2♦ was artificial game forcing, 3♠ was a slam try, 4♠ said “I hate my hand,” 4NT was RKC, 5♦ showed 1, 5♥ asked about the Q, 6♣ showed ♠Q and ♣K and tends to deny the ♥K (5NT would have shown it and the ♠Q). West led a diamond. How would you play this hand?
You can guarantee making 6 by just drawing trumps and taking a heart finesse for an overtrick. That also leaves open the possibility of ruffing out 1 club (making 7 when spades are 2-2 (40%) giving you a late entry to dummy and clubs are 3-3 (35%) giving you a 3rd discard for the last potentially losing heart in hand). This line is 100% for making 6 and will make 7 slightly more than 60% of the time.
Noting that getting a 3rd club trick is enough to avoid having to rely on the heart finesse, someone not unlike myself might attempt to ruff a club before trumps are all in. This would all be moot if spades were 4-0 because then there definitely would be no entry to the long club.
Anyway, after playing a high trump from hand with both defenders following suit, I planned to play ♣A, ♣K, ruff a club high, go to dummy with a trump and ruff another club high if necessary, and get back to the good club while drawing the 3rd round of trumps. This line succeeds when clubs are 4-2 either way or 3-3, about 84%. Of course, this line does risk going down when clubs split badly and the heart hook is offside (8%).
LHO trumped the first round of clubs. The heart hook was on so I still made 6 for no matchpoints. Don’t you hate it when you take a superior line of play only to find out that the inferior line would have worked?
Mediocre players would draw trumps in 3 rounds, realize that they can’t set up clubs and get back to them, so they pitch 2 hearts on the diamonds (perhaps realizing that it doesn’t help at all) and then take a heart finesse. Expert players search for a way to make 7 that is better than just drawing trumps and taking a finesse.
Since nearly everyone, even fairly weak players, would reach 6♠, the consideration of playing safe to make the contract shouldn’t really be an issue in matchpoints. Playing imps, the 20% extra chance of an overtrick is never worth the 8% chance of an undertrick, especially in a slam where an undertrick will cost 12 imps.