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A signaling quiz
eodlance: depends on how deep you take the thinking on the hand. Take the first 6 tricks as given. Then at trick does West read the diamond K, versus the diamond A?

You have to look at ALL the tricks played to this point...especially the spade suit. As rph noted, East has shown that he'll win the 4th round of spades...but by ruffing, or with the last ace? If the former, a spade lead helps. If the latter, it hurts..and potentially a great deal. South IS NOT short in spades, if he's competent; it is, in fact, probably his longest non-trump suit. If East has the 4th ace of spades, then a spade lead often forces him to play it. Fine, he wins that trick...but now, the suit is unblocked. Say South started with AATxxx; his T is now good, once trump are drawn. That's a trick he might NOT be able to get on his own.

ON THE TOTAL trick 7, if East plays the K, I think he actually *tends to deny* BOTH missing diamond aces. It's not certain; he might have a holding where he can't afford to signal...say, no ten. West has to decide on a spade lead, hoping East had TKQ AND only a moderate (at best) trump's possible that the ruff will hurt in the long run, by shortening East premature. West should lead a heart...East *had a reason* to signal in hearts. That reason HAS to be that he had diamond ace(s) to be cashing.

So if East plays the diamond A at trick 7...hearts are sewn up. Diamonds are sewn up. A spade lead looks better now, all things considered.

HOWEVER, West is entirely justified in looking at his hand, and balancing the risks, particularly in the spade suit. If West started with, say, 5 spades only, then a spade lead might be too risky, and set up South. IF West has some decent trump length and spots...ATxxxx, say, then exiting with his longest RED suit, in the hope of forcing South to start ruffing, might be the best choice.

The main thrust on the initial quiz was to realize what East was saying, and why. What West does with that info has answers both in the semi-generic sense, without regard to his holding and based solely on interpreting East's messages...and the next step, integrating that with his own hand.

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