All News

New To The Table

            A Problem Lead.

Our focus today is on the choice of opening lead, rather than the bidding. The opposition bid quickly to 3NT with the following uninterrupted sequence:

                                                North                         South


                                                1Diamond-small                               1NT

                                                3NT                            Pass

With 1Club-small being 4+ clubs and the 1NT rebid showing 15-17 high card points (hcp).

Your hand as West is as follows:

Spade-small QJ4


Diamond-small T72

Club-small QT53

and the spotlight is on you.

You are entitled to ask the opponents about their style of bidding. One good question to ask North is that by bidding 1NT whether South is denying a major suit. The answer is they may have a major as they show the shape and point count of the opening bid before they show a major suit.

So, from that answer, you can deduce that North themselves does not have a major suit as they would be certain to explore for a fit before bidding 3NT.

So, how does this all help?

In the absence of any other evidence, we would tend to lead low, perhaps 4th  highest, of our longest and strongest against a no-trump contract. The “other evidence” here is that our only 4 card suit is clubs, bid by the opening bidder on your right. While any lead can work out well or badly, leading round to opener’s first bid suit is quite risky. We know opener has at least 4 clubs (North “announced” that when the opening bid was made) and they could have 5 clubs and still have a balanced hand.

What about the other suits? We have no reason to lead diamonds, dummy’s suit. We know dummy has no major and they might have long diamonds. Leading that suit may just help declarer. No, thanks.

What about the majors? South may have a major suit but since 1Club-small was a 4+ card suit, they cannot have both majors as they have shown a balanced hand. So, by a process of elimination, we know our partner must have at least one major suit of at least 4 cards, maybe even more.
As East-West are vulnerable, it is still possible for East to have a 5-card major and not to have overcalled 1Diamond-small. The likelihood of East having a 5-card major would be less if E/W were not vulnerable.

So, it sounds like we could try and find partner’s 4 or 5 card suit with our opening lead. Which suit would we like our partner to have?

It would be wonderful if partner held Heart-small KQJxx. What a wonderful lead a small heart, well any heart would be then. It is just possible that the above is partner’s holding but they would almost be able to overcall if it was. In reality, we should look to spades for two reasons:

  1. We need less in terms of high cards from our partner than we do if hearts is the winning lead (as we hold two spade honours but only one in hearts).
  2. If we lead hearts and say have to lose a trick to establish that suit, we have no quick outside entry to regain the lead. However, if we try the Spade-smallQ, the Heart-smallA could prove a very useful quick entry.

So, we lead the Spade-smallQ and this is what we see in dummy:

South Deals
E-W Vul
10 7 6
Q 6 4
K Q 8 6 3
K 6
Q J 4
A 9 5
10 7 2
Q 10 5 3
W   E
West North East South
You Dummy    
Pass 1  Pass 1 NT
Pass 3 NT All pass  


Your system is “low card from partner encouraging”. On trick 1, partner plays Spade-small2 and declarer Spade-smallK. South leads Heart-small10 to trick 2…and you play…….?

We will look at all four cards and see how successful our opening lead was on Sunday….

Richard Solomon

Go Back View All News Items

Our Sponsors
  • NZB Foundation
  • Ryman