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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

ALTERNATIVE EVIDENCE.

Opening Leads can be somewhat “hit and miss”, sometimes a lucky “hit”, often a big “miss”! That is, of course, an exaggeration. The recommended leads for any one situation do work more often than when they do not…and when they do not, you have the satisfaction that others will have made the same poor choice as you did: average board. Somehow, it is hard to regard a 20% board as average! However, you know you cannot score over 90% in most Pairs sessions. So, take the poor score on the chin and enjoy the moral high ground that you made the recommended lead. Who cares about the match-points?! Much. wink

Sometimes, though, there is evidence to deviate from the norm.

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North Deals
Both Vul
   
6 4 2
Q J 9 6 2
9 5
K 6 5
 
N
W   E
S
   
West North East South
  1  Pass 1 
1  Dbl Pass 2 
Pass 2  Pass 2 NT
Pass 3 NT All pass  

 

North started proceedings with a Precision 1Club-small (16+ any shape) with South's 1Diamond-small being the standard 0-7 any shape negative. You stick half a toe into the water with 1Heart-small as on some day sometime it may prove to be a useful lead- directing bid.

You might wonder the wisdom of this when North doubles and South thinks for some time. Being declarer in a doubled contract even at the 1 level is not on your "wish list" with the 13 cards you hold. However, all's well as South then North exchange minor suit bids before South grabs the no-trumps in front of their strong partner.

So, your lead?

Reaching over for the bridge textbook, you can quickly find the recommended lead from your heart suit. It is the Heart-smallQ because you hold the Heart-small9. Dummy will go down with Kx and your partner has Axx. Five heart tricks, contract defeated..next deal, please.

Just one minute. Although North, the dummy hand, is the powerful one here, it was South who announced that heart hold. North’s double of 1Heart-small had been for take out and North had made no great push towards game until their partner bid 2NT. While North might have a high heart honour, there will not be much length there.

Another factor is that your partner made no effort to raise hearts which they might well do with three hearts and one of the higher honours. They do not know you had bid on so little! So, we can discount anything like our “dream” or textbook lay-out. There is a strong case for going against the textbook and leading a low heart.

I did..well, but did not. Well, I did not lead a heart honour but went rather negative about the suit altogether. At best, I had one outside entry. I abandoned the suit and went looking to help partner. I led a hopeful Spade-small6 through dummy’s shorter suit. This was dummy:

North Deals
Both Vul
K Q 8 7
K
A K Q J 6 3
A 4
6 4 2
Q J 9 6 2
9 5
K 6 5
 
N
W   E
S
   

 

Certainly, no outside entry to my hearts, or no quick one, (with that Club-smallA in dummy)and the heart situation looked pretty hopeless for reasons stated above. However, I choose my partner well!

North Deals
Both Vul
K Q 8 7
K
A K Q J 6 3
A 4
6 4 2
Q J 9 6 2
9 5
K 6 5
 
N
W   E
S
 
A 9 5
A 3
10 8 7 2
10 8 3 2
 
J 10 3
10 8 7 5 4
4
Q J 9 7

 

The play to the first three tricks rather surprised me. A couple of major aces from partner followed by a small heart. (Fortunately, you can smile broadly on BBO without anyone seeing!) The board was over after the first five tricks and we  indeed got on very quickly to the next one.

The irony was that on the previous board, partner had reached 4 of a major after opening a flat but aceless 20 count while her 8 count on this board more than made up for that! What was correct was that the textbook lead was wrong. All the defence can take after Heart-smallQ lead is 3 heart tricks and the Spade-smallA.

That hidden diamond mine!

Many defenders faced a different auction which may have gone:

West              North            East                South

                        2Club-small                   Pass                2Diamond-small

Pass 1                  3Diamond-small                   Pass                3Heart-small

Pass                3NT                All Pass

1 I could not even think of overcalling here and bear the agony while the opposition muse over whether to punish this bid! South's next bid confirmed that silence was golden!

Maybe North told the opponents nothing by simply gambling 3NT over 2Diamond-smallwhich either shows 25+ balanced (as per the text-book..let's rewrite that book) or gambling style.

Occasionally, North did mention their second suit making South declarer. However, with Heart-smallA lead out of the question (except perhaps where North has "gambled" where ace leads are encouraged), East may well try a club to the QKA (though West would do well to withhold the king). North still needs one spade trick to count to 9 or if the Club-smallK had been played, they could finesse the Club-small10. After bidding 3Diamond-small, East should just be a little suspicious of this spade play. Although they could not see the diamond suit, it was likely to be strong to justify the 2Club-small opening.

smell a rat.jpg

Only one East player, Otago’s Tim Webb, smelt the rat and seeing a mangy heart suit in dummy, won his Spade-smallA and tried a speculative Heart-smallA and got the “come on” from his partner.

Well done also to Christchurch's Sharyn Silcock who found the low heart lead from the West seat after South had bid the suit.

I am still not convinced this was the hour when it was right to overcall a Precision Club being vulnerable. At least, it made the switch easy for partner!

And a bidding problem for tomorrow…or maybe it is no problem!

     
South Deals
N-S Vul
 
N
W   E
S
   
 
A K 7 5
K Q 9 3 2
K 8 6 2
West North East South
      1 
Pass 1  Pass ?

 

No explanations needed….just your bid!

Richard Solomon

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