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no problem if I held these.

An Honour too Many?

Well, you would not think having such a holding was possible and indeed for a while in an unusual bidding sequence, that was not true. The task today is to unravel the sequence and find the lead to beat the opponents’ slam. They had already tried to play in two other slams before resting in 6NT. There’s only a choice of four suits. How hard can it therefore be to choose the right one?cry

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North Deals
None Vul
   
10 6 3
7 5 2
A Q 8 3 2
10 3
 
N
W   E
S
   
West North East South
  1  2  2 NT
Pass 3  Pass 3 NT
Pass 4 NT Pass 5 
Pass 6  Pass Pass
Dbl 6  Pass 6 NT
All pass      

 

1Club-small was Precision style. The next few bids were all natural after which 4NT was straight Blackwood, with 5Diamond-small showing one ace. Your double asked for the lead of dummy’s first bid suit, albeit artificially bid and the rest is rather interesting….and it still is your lead?

Not though for one of our panellists who eliminates all four suits:

Stephen Blackstock “The double of 6Heart-small is asking for an unusual lead. As East’s presumably decent suit, a club would be normal. Diamonds are excluded by the failure to double 5Diamond-small. Heart are trumps. Logically you are thus saying you want to ruff spades, or that you have a trump stack and the lead won’t matter. On the face of it, North believed the rather uncommon psychic Lightner, and ran because his hearts are poor. Since South insists that clubs are no problem, perhaps I should lead a heart. Or would that undo all the good work insinuating I have hearts?

But the auction is so odd I am reluctant to suggest that any deductions can safely be drawn…..”

 

That was kind of how it felt to be on lead, except that parts of what Stephen said were clearly not true. For the double of 6Heart-small to have credence, West must have believed it was likely South held the Diamond-smallK.

Also citing our failure to double 5Diamond-small is:

Nigel Kearney “ Heart-small5: Often an attacking lead is necessary against slams but that doesn't seem to be the case here. I hope they have only 11 tricks and need to find a twelfth. So, I want a passive lead. A heart is not 100% safe as partner could have Qx but looks better than anything else. The choice of card is not MUD -  just random in this kind of situation.

However, it was very creative of us to fail to double 5Diamond-small and then expect a diamond lead when we double 6Heart-small on the theory it is "dummy's first bid suit". So, I'm concerned that opponents did not fully appreciate our genius and might have run from 6Heart-smallX for other reasons than fear of diamonds. In that case the Diamond-smallK might not be where we expect it.

 Why double for a lead when you think you can beat a slam? However, where indeed is that Diamond-smallK?

 

Peter Newell  Club-small10: I don’t understand why North would believe moving from 6Heart-small to 6Spade-small after a double asking for a diamond lead: does not makes sense. I am not leading a diamond given South is marked with the king and given this is Teams, there is no hurry to grab the trick.

Not a heart either given that is North’s best suit. It seems normal to lead a club, though the 10 could possibly be costly if it helps declarer in the club suit…and it doesn’t look likely that any spade trick is going to run away.  I think there is more chance of giving away a trick in that suit if partner has the queen So, I will lead Club-small10, with a bit of trepidation – partner’s suit after all.

So, South has the Diamond-smallK?

Bruce Anderson “Spade-small3: I freely admit to not understanding this auction, and I don’t understand why I am not doubling 6NT. Partner should have something reasonable in clubs; with length and a relatively weak suit, I would have heard a weak jump overcall. Nonetheless, declarer seems to be well prepared for a club lead. So, I am making a lead that should give nothing away. If partner does gain the lead, he/she will surely lead a diamond.”

It seems that South’s run from 6Spade-small does suggest they do not like spades though that does not make a spade lead totally safe if South held say Spade-smallAx and your partner the unsupported queen.

Completing the choice of suits and hoping that the Diamond-smallK had hopped round the table to East:

Matt Brown “Diamond-smallA: This seems relatively clear cut with a bit of thought, I think. North is likely to be exactly 6-5 and South has insisted multiple times on their club stopper. If partner has one of their majors stopped, we will collect Diamond-smallA and that trick, and if not, we must hope they have Diamond-smallK. They cannot have enough tricks where leading the A gives them the contract if they didn't already have it.

(Simpler answer - We asked for a diamond lead so we should lead a diamond embarassed

Michael Ware “Diamond-smallA: Righty has promised club cards not Diamond-smallK. This way I might get also get a second chance after seeing dummy and partner's signal.”

True but maybe the damage has already been done…or maybe not!

 

North Deals
None Vul
A Q 9 4 2
A K Q 8 6 3
6 5
10 6 3
7 5 2
A Q 8 3 2
10 3
 
N
W   E
S
 
8 5
10 4
K 7 6 5
K J 9 8 7
 
K J 7
J 9
J 10 9 4
A Q 4 2
West North East South
  1  2  2 NT
Pass 3  Pass 3 NT
Pass 4 NT Pass 5 
Pass 6  Pass Pass
Dbl 6  Pass 6 NT
All pass      

 

I like Matt Brown’s analysis though it does seem strange that South would run to 6NT without the Diamond-smallK. I suspect the winning lead would have been easier to find had we not held that Diamond-smallQ, though then we would never have doubled 6Heart-small.

 Athough the Diamond-smallA lead gives South an extra trick if they had held Diamond-smallK, it may well not be the 12th trick assuming partner’s non club honour is in a major suit.

In reality, North could have passed 6Heart-small and South should have passed 6Spade-small with both contracts making with an overtrick.

At the table, a club was led, allowing South to make an easy overtrick.

So, had we not held the Diamond-smallQ, we would never as West recorded a plus score as we would have passed out 6Heart-small. Yet, the possession of that same queen seem to prevent our completing what would have been a rather successful operation (Matt Brown and Michael Ware excepted).

It’s Jan’s Day and there is more defending to be done

 

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

 

1Club-small was Precision style with 2Diamond-small being an 8+ hcp positive. The subsequent bidding was natural.

You lead Club-smallQ which goes to East’s Club-small3 (reverse count) and declarer’s Club-smallA. Next comes a low heart from declarer’s hand. Plan the defence.

Richard Solomon

 

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