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When choosing between 3NT and a major suit game (4♥/4♠) it is generally better to prefer the major suit when you have at least eight cards between the partnership. The security and extra options created by a trump suit more than compensate for the extra trick that has to be made.
The same is emphatically not true of minor suits - after all a minor suit game is only one trick short of a Small Slam. Far better to gamble 3NT than try for two more tricks in 5♣/5♦.
♠ 7 5
♥ 8 3
♦ A K Q J 10 9
♣ 8 6 3
♠ A 8 4
♥ K 7 4
♦ 8 4 2
♣ Q 10 5 2
♠ K 9 6 3 2
♥ A 9 6 2
♦ 6 3
♣ 9 7
♠ Q J 10
♥ Q J 10 5
♦ 7 5
♣ A K J 4
North did not even mention his ♦s and the optimum contract of 3NT was reached. West led ♣2 and declarer gratefully won ♣J. He was able to cash dummy’s six ♦s and the two top ♣s - an easy nine tricks.
Fascinatingly, only a ♦ lead defeats 3NT! Declarer wins in dummy and must try to establish a major suit trick. He leads ♥3 to ♥10 and West’s ♥K. West plays a second ♦ and now, severed from dummy, declarer must cash the ♦s immediately. He discards two ♣s and a ♥ but what does he discard on the last ♦? Try it out!
Note that 5♦ by North is completely hopeless. On a ♣ lead declarer loses ♠AK, ♥AK and ♣Q - three down.
Andrew's Tip: Avoid minor-suit games.