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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Lucky…or not!

That is often the case when it comes to opening leads. Sometimes, you have a stand-out safe-looking lead which most in your seat would make…so, if it fails, it fails for others, too. Yet, then there are those occasions when any one of four suits might be right..and who knows what your opponent might choose with your cards?

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West Deals
None Vul

   

6 2

10 7

K 10 8 6 5 3 2

A 9

 

N

W

 

E

S

   

 

West

North

East

South

3 

Pass

Pass

4 

All pass

 

 

 

You were actually dealt a seven-card suit this time, even if purists would say the suit is a little weak. Most, though, would find a 3Diamond-small opening..and that only sparked South into action. So, what is it to be?

Let’s look at the options, starting from the bottom:

The case for a club: It’s fine when partner has a few clubs headed by the Club-smallK (or no king but holds the Heart-smallA) and you can score a ruff. It is though a rather all or nothing lead. If it fails, then there could be no recovery…and also when and if your partner gets the lead, you may want them to play a diamond rather than give you a ruff. However, it’s a positive plan.

What about a diamond? It’s probable your partner has 2 or less diamonds or else they may have raised your opening bid. It’s definitely best when your partner holds Diamond-smallA or Diamond-smallQ, or even no diamonds at all, but otherwise, it is probably for declarer’s benefit. However, by not leading a club, you retain an almost certain entry should your partner have a singleton diamond and the Heart-smallA. It’s an aggressive lead but maybe  that needs to be our approach. 

A trump? With South holding a minimum 6, possibly more, hearts, it seems that the only thing a trump lead would do is to help declarer…if they need to find a missing trump honour. It at best seems a passive lead but may lose tempo for the defence. Unless dummy has something like a 4234 near yarborough, it does not seem to be a great choice.

A spade? Who knows? Again it might help declarer in finding missing honours and like any of the others might be right on a certain day. One interesting thought. If dummy was reasonably strong and had their own suit, that suit is more likely to be clubs than spades as they would be more inclined to overcall 3Diamond-small at the 3-level rather than go a level higher and past a possible 3NT contract.

The decision. We have cases for and against any of the three side-suits and a case mainly against leading a trump. So, your choice is?

West Deals
None Vul

K Q 7 3

3

9 4

K Q J 8 3 2

6 2

10 7

K 10 8 6 5 3 2

A 9

 

N

W

 

E

S

 

A 9 8 5 4

K 5 4

J

10 7 5 4

 

J 10

A Q J 9 8 6 2

A Q 7

6

 

West

North

East

South

3 

Pass

Pass

4 

All pass

 

 

 

West went for gold with Club-smallA and was soon regretting that choice. East presumed the lead was a singleton and played Club-small10, suggesting a spade switch. West obliged but this put declarer where they wanted to be, in dummy, when East continued spades and declarer discarded a diamond before taking a trump finesse, Heart-smallA and a third heart. East played their diamond but declarer won and could cash black-suit winners to score 10 tricks.

It would seem very hard for East to continue spades though that line would be successful defence since in playing a third round of spades from dummy, West will score a ruff and as long as West exits their remaining trump, the defence takes 2 black aces, 2 trumps and eventually Diamond-smallK.

After an initial diamond lead, South may try their club. West takes their ace and does best not to give East a ruff. Two rounds of spades sees the Diamond-smallQ disappear (but only to declarer’s benefit if they play a second round of clubs, rather than a third round of spades). If South plays Heart-smallA at trick 2, followed by Heart-smallQ, the defence can take one trick in each suit.

After an initial trump lead, East playing low, declarer cashes a second round and must then play their club. West can exit a spade but East cannot keep declarer out of dummy…and losing diamonds will disappear on high clubs…making 10 tricks.

And the spade lead? If East wins and switches to Diamond-smallJ, the defence should certainly take one trick in each suit. Winning and continuing spades will also see 4 tricks for the defence as long as West takes Club-smallA at the first opportunity. Alternatively, ducking the spade opening lead does declarer no good with dummy then inaccessible.

So, it seems the spade lead will defeat the contract. Club-smallA might as long as East can be convinced it is not their partner who has the singleton club. A diamond lead may defeat the contract depending on declarer’s line. A trump lead should enable the contract to make. "will..might...may...will not". Which word described your choice?

And at the other table? The same Club-smallA lead, spade switch and club continuation. Flat board. Tough opening lead and for the East players to get it right from there. The “who knows” spade lead might just have worked better. Oh, and only tell South quietly that the one game contract that will make is 3NT. A good hold in the pre-emptor's suit and a "half-decent" dummy is seemingly all one needs.

Richard Solomon

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