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JUST BRIDGE...


TEST YOUR OPENNING LEAD JUDGMENT

 

by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish

 

  Let's try something a bit different today. Here's an East/West auction to consider:

 

West North East South
    1 Pass
2 Pass 3 Pass
3 Pass 4 Pass
Pass Pass    


 Both 3
and 3 are forcing.

 What would you lead as South with each of these hands on the depicted auction?

 

a) A 7632 A8542  

J109

 

b) 87642 Q10 AQJ108  

5

 

c) Q102 Q1086 A1094  

109

 

d) 86 A976 A105  

J1094

 

e) 976 9 KQ975  

Q874

 



Solutions:



a)
7. When a lead seems as straightforward as the J (top of a three-card sequence) it's always a good idea to double-check for extra evidence. Here there is plenty of that available. West has strongly suggested a five-card heart suit and East three-card heart support. You expect North to have only one heart. If you start the suit immediately you expect to gain the lead with both your aces to give him heart ruffs. If you're running well you might even double.

 



b)
A. You expect the opponents to have a five-three fit in spades. You have significant strength and can't expect North to hold as much as an ace and a king. If you lead your singleton club and North has the ace, you will get a ruff or, perhaps a diamond through the king, but you won't often get anything else. With five trumps it is often better to try to force declarer to ruff with his long trumps. You are looking for a "tap suit" and diamonds offer the best chance. If North turns up with the

 K and East is short in the suit this plan will work smoothly, but you may succeed even on some other diamond layouts.



c)
10. This combines relative safety with attack. The lead of an unsupported ace is best reserved for specific situations with an overall plan in mind. Here the A would be unnecessarily speculative, with good chances for a trick in each major and only 8 points, it's better to try to let nature take its course. North will have some high cards to contribute to the defence.

 



d)
A. A close cousin to a). Again, you might wish to double, lead A, then the 7 or 9 for North to ruff, a suit preference signal (as was the seven in a) above) for diamonds. North figures to read the position accurately and when you get in you will give him another heart ruff.

 



e)
K. This one is far from clear-cut. Many good players would not hesitate to lead their singleton when nothing else stands out. If North has a major suit ace and one other ace the heart lead will defeat the contract easily while the K might not. North is unlikely to hold two aces, however. Meanwhile, if hearts are lying badly for declarer, setting up or cashing diamond tricks might work. A trump might be right too, or even a club, but we like the more obvious K.