QJ875 KJ5 A4 QJ7 KT2 AQ63 KQ53 65 1N-3N Lead: C8
The opponents play 4th best from suits they like, udca, odd-even, and original smith.
You win trick one in dummy while RHO plays the ten. It seems clear that LHO started with AK98 of clubs (and maybe a 5th or 6th; I guess I don't know if the CT was count or attitude). What do you do?
[My html hack for expanding posts doesn't seem to be working any more, so stop here if you want to make a plan before reading on.]
There's a technical line for making 9 tricks, which may be right at matchpoints: if LHO has SA and 4 diamonds to go with 5 clubs, he'll be squeezed out of the setting trick on the run of the hearts and you can then set up spades. This obviously also succeeds if clubs are 4-4 all along.
It might also be right to play RHO for SA and try to steal a trick. If he has enough of them, leading SQ at trick 2 might induce a duck fearing stiff K with partner.
But, I don't think either of these lines is right at matchpoints. Our strong NT style is a hair lighter than some, and not everyone will avoid the 5-3 spade fit (though I agree with North's action -- note that it's a clear winner on a non-club lead for starters). So most of the field rates to be plus 620 and we need to try to take 10 tricks.
[Last chance to ponder once more]
The best line I could come up with is to place RHO with SA and try to create a difficult-to-read smith situation. So I led D4 to the K (RHO played the 2 and LHO the 7 -- if LHO had the 2 I may have switched plans). This was as I hoped: from RHO's point of view, there were 2 outstanding spots lower than the seven, making the card difficult to read. I then led a spade to the Q and Ace. I also liked that I blocked 2 suits, which is a little counter-intuitive and may be harder for the defense to work out. Sure enough, RHO took some time to think...
... and led a club. Down 1.
In retrospect, it's a bit hard to imagine a layout from RHO's point of view where a club was wrong. Perhaps I should have tried one of the other lines and at least secured a plus score.