#1 Neither Vulnerable

South   West   North   East
2NT       Pass     3♣         Pass
3♠          Pass      4♠         AP 

North
♠ K 10 6 5
9 8
4 3 2
♣ K J 5 4                           

West                                      East
♠                                             ♠
                                           
                                              
♣                                            ♣                                                 

South (Declarer)
♠ A J 4 3 2
 A Q
 K 7 6
♣ A Q 9 

West leads the J. What is South’s plan?
 
This is an “exception to the rule” hand.

Generally, when holding nine or more cards in a suit missing the queen, declarer cashes the AK and waits for the queen to fall.  In this example, South is looking at a vulnerable diamond holding ~ If East (dangerous hand) gets in with the ♠Q and leads a diamond through South’s K76, South is down 1.  To avoid this scenario, South forgoes the 8 ever, 9 never guideline and takes a finesse ♠Q to West is “safe” because West cannot lead a diamond through South’s K76.  Once trump are pulled, Declarer ends up losing one spade and two diamonds (one diamond goes on the long club in dummy) and makes the contract.
 
Occasionally, taking a look at the entire hand will lead you to an exception to the general guideline we saw here.   

North (Dummy)
♠ K 10 6 5
9 8
 4 3 2
♣ K J 5 4                    

West                                      East
♠ 7                                         ♠ Q 9 8
 J 10 7 3                               K 6 5 4 2
 A 9 8 5                                Q J 10
♣ 10 6 3 2                             ♣ 8 7                                   

South (Declarer)
♠ A J 4 3 2
 A Q
 K 7 6
♣ A Q 9

Let me hear your comments!

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