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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Friendly lead?

For Less Experienced Players.

The Lead and The Line.

Is there a connection? There certainly can be. Sometimes you receive a very friendly lead and can play the board in a relatively easy manner, whatever that means! Then, there are the leads which threaten the contract. It would be a shame to be defeated in your contract if you received the former.

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South Deals
Both Vul
9
6 4 2
J 3
A K J 9 8 7 5
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
A K 10 3
K 8 7 5
A 7 5
10 3
West North East South
      1 NT
2  3 NT All pass  

 

1NT is 12-14 with 2Spade-small showing spades and a minor. North tries for 9 quick tricks and is playing a convention called Lebensohl, where 3NT in the above auction shows the values for game but denies a spade hold. South would remove to a suit without a spade hold though not this time.

Lead Spade-smallQ

It seems like you just received a lucky lead though on any lead, you might be able to count at least 10 tricks.

At trick 1, East plays a rather discouraging Spade-small8. It seems right to win this trick and attack clubs. On the first round of clubs, West plays Club-small4. Plan the play.

The success of this contract depends on the club suit. If you can bring in 7 club tricks, then you will make at least one overtrick. The Spade-smallQ lead gave you time which a diamond lead would certainly not. Had the defence led a diamond, you could not afford to lose the lead before you had taken at least 9 tricks since even if the diamond suit broke evenly (that’s 4 in each defender’s hand), you would lose 3 diamond tricks, Heart-smallA, maybe more heart tricks if West holds Heart-smallA and a club trick if indeed you had to lose one. Contract defeated!

So, after a diamond lead, you may choose to duck the first two rounds though then you would probably play clubs from the top, hoping the Club-smallQ would fall singleton or doubleton. Note that West’s bid showed spades and a minor. Never forget the bidding. That minor may be clubs, though that seems unlikely after a diamond lead from West. If West has spades and diamonds (at least 9 cards in those two suits), the chance of West holding Club-smallQxx is low. Indeed, you must be optimistic that each defender has two clubs and if so, it is your lucky day.

No need for such pessimism

But wait! Such pessimism. We received a nice friendly Spade-smallQ lead. We do not mind losing the lead once because the defence are not going to take many, maybe not any tricks off us immediately if we lose the lead. This, therefore, should be reflected in our play. In bridge terms, we are going to take a safety play, just in case East has 3 clubs headed by the queen. If that is the lay-out, we can still make our contract, as long as we play low in dummy on the first round of clubs. Presumably, we led Club-small10. It is going to be our lucky day, “lucky” maybe the wrong word for making the right play:

South Deals
Both Vul
9
6 4 2
J 3
A K J 9 8 7 5
Q J 7 6 5
Q 10
K Q 10 9 8
4
 
N
W   E
S
 
8 4 2
A J 9 3
6 4 2
Q 6 2
 
A K 10 3
K 8 7 5
A 7 5
10 3
West North East South
      1 NT
2  3 NT All pass  

 

As long as you play low to the first round of clubs, you will score 9 tricks, at least. If you play a top club on the first round of the suit, then you will record a minus score. (It is true that had clubs broken 2-2, and East held Club-smallQ, you will then have lost a trick unnecessarily. However, even at Pairs and certainly at Teams, it is imperative you make your contract first and worry about overtricks later.)

West's Lament

When West saw the doubleton Diamond-smallJ in dummy, they would have been kicking themselves for not having led a high diamond though it would take inspired defence to defeat the contract. South would duck the first and second rounds of diamonds. At that point, West has to switch to the Heart-smallQ. East allows the Heart-smallK to score but when East gains the lead with Club-smallQ, as they know they must, East will take 2 further heart tricks to defeat the contract.

If the defence had continued diamonds, South can make 3NT as long as they duck the first round of clubs.

clever duck.png

Clever duck!

Thus, the initial diamond lead is tough for the declarer but could also be tough for the defence too. However, when you receive as friendly a lead as the Spade-smallQ, (Club-small4 would have been friendly, too), play such a contract as safely as possible. Ducking the Club-small10 is then the way to success.

Optimism?

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

 

Well, you jumped there. You had better make 12 tricks, at least, then!

1NT was 15-17 and 2Spade-small was natural and committed the partnership to game. 4Spade-small was thus minimum but you decided your void might come in handy.

West leads Spade-small3 and East follows to trick 1 with Spade-small2. Plan the play.

Richard Solomon

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