Vil Gravis's blog

Opening Leads Chapter 17

As promised, we can now satisfy those who would have led the queen of diamonds, a lead I have considerable sympathy for. Leading a singleton through dummy’s first bid suit is always not without risk, whereas leading a long suit headed by the QJ10 is completely safe. Being an aggressive optimist on defence, I would always opt for the singleton, but let’s see how a competent pair would defend after South decided to lead the diamond queen against 4H.

Dealer East EW Vul

T9853
A5
AK7
J64
AJ642
64
652
KQ9
KQ
KQJT832
3
A32
7
97
QJT984
T875

SouthWestNorthEast
---1
Pass1Pass3
Pass4PassPass
Pass

Opening Leads Chapter 16

Now for the amazing ‘repeat’ of history. It is said that one learns from history but it seems that few of our readers who have had this almost identical situation have done so. Let me then relate the latest repeat of history.

This chapter, and it will take another one (Ch17) to fully cover both topics, is about COMMUNICATION and DECEPTION. You need to be able to communicate fully with partner on defence, which is why the opening lead and signalling are so important. You also need to be able to deceive the defenders, when necessary, when you are declarer and see that the defenders are on the right track. Legitimate communication between defenders is vital, and misleading the defence by declarer is also necessary some of the time, so try and learn how to be dishonest (well, let’s just say ‘sneaky’) when declarer, and to see through declarer’s lies when you are defending. If you are a good pair of defenders, nothing declarer can do will steer you away from the best defence. But if you are declarer, you can use some tricks of play to lead them astray. Legitimate dishonesty is, after all, part of the art of bridge play. Let’s see how all this might work in practice, using this very interesting deal from just a few days ago.

Dealer East EW Vul

T9853
A5
AK7
J64
AJ642
64
652
KQ9
KQ
KQJT832
3
A32
7
97
QJT984
T875

Opening Leads Chapter 15

There can be quite a difference between theory and real life, especially in bridge. Now that we have discussed a few theoretic deals based on my own past experience, we will take a look at deals that have occurred recently, which is always a good basis to learn from. Quite amazingly, the discussion in the next chapter (16) will centre on an almost identical situation to that which I presented the attendees in a session I ran last year. There really is nothing new under the sun, which is why we are constantly learning in this game. But you will have to wait for that fascinating deal until Chapter 16, for now I have a more mundane deal which still has some points of real interest. This one comes from Friday X-Clubs, as will the one reviewed in chapter 16.

Board 15 from Friday 14/06/24
Dealer South NS Vul

JT
A8
AQT8652
AK
A32
T4
9743
Q943
K98
J752
KJ
J862
Q7654
KQ963
T75

SouthWestNorthEast
PassPass1Pass
1Pass3Pass
3Pass3NTPass
4Pass4Pass
PassPass

Opening Leads Chapter 14

Here is the second one from Tuesday 11th. This time, a standard transfer sequence when the weak No Trump opener is playing in a trump contract. Nothing too different but South will be leading through the weaker hand. Should that make any difference in your approach? Well, a little bit anyway, since you will be leading through weakness and round to strength, if indeed there is any difference. Dummy of course will have the long trump suit.

Board 24 from Tuesday 11/06/24
Dealer West Nil Vul

KJT
98
964
A5432
62
QT754
KT7
KJ9
AQ95
K62
A32
T86
8743
AJ3
QJ85
Q7

SouthWestNorthEast
PassPass1NTPass
2Pass2Pass
PassPass

Opening Leads Chapter 13

The next two opening lead problems have come from recent play, both from X-Clubs on Tuesday 11-June. I will reproduce the full deals, not because I am what sceptics call a ‘results merchant’ but because they do illustrate some important considerations when making what you consider the best opening lead. It may not necessarily lead to the best outcome, but in the long term if you have ‘perfected’ your opening leads, you’ll be able to add considerably to your average session score.

Board 5 Tuesday 11/06/24
Dealer North NS Vul

Q984
T3
QJ9
AT92
A65
KJ64
7654
K6
JT732
5
T32
QJ43
K
AQ9872
AK8
875

Opening Leads Chapter 12

The next opening lead problem received unanimous votes for the queen of hearts but there is a story to go with that, from a long time ago when I discovered a rule I have given myself and followed ever since this particular deal was played, when I was declarer and received that very same unanimous heart lead against a pathetic 1S contract bid exactly this way.

1.The bidding has been:
Dealer South, NS Vul

SouthWestNorthEast
1Pass1Pass
1PassPassPass

Your hand:
J92
QJT4
KJ72
72

Your lead?

Opening Leads Chapter 11

Two more opening lead problems, ones that I thought were easier this time, yet there were still different answers from the group. There is also a good bidding problem in the first problem, one that is worth addressing in some detail. I’m glad that I asked my panel to comment on the bidding as well!

1.The bidding has been:
Dealer South, All Vul

SouthWestNorthEast
2PassPassX
PassPassPass

2C is a version of Precision, 11-15 and 6+ clubs or 5 clubs and 4 diamonds
Your hand:
K7
Q873
A54
AJ43

Your lead?

Opening Leads Chapter 10: Thinking and Communicating

I would now like to revisit Chapter 9 and take another look at problem b) because another look will open our eyes to the need to THINK as well as not jump to conclusions, and that goes both for the defenders and declarer.

b) Dealer East, All Vul
The bidding has been:

SouthWestNorthEast
---1NT
X2XPass
3NTPassPassPass

Your hand:
J92
T7632
4
J543

Your lead?

Opening Leads Chapter 9

Here is my take on the opening lead problems from Chapter 8, supported by a number of answers from a group of improvers as well as some views from the more experienced. I stress that there is never a perfect opening lead, but some have a better chance of success, and it is these that, if you can arrive at them with some good and logical thinking, will get you the better outcomes. All the opening lead problems come from actual play. In all cases, there is an opening lead that a) would have obtained the best result and b) could have been arrived at through a process of logical thinking and attention to the bidding. That is what we should all be trying to cultivate and which is the purpose of this exercise.

a) Dealer South, EW Vul
The bidding has been:

SouthWestNorthEast
PassPass1Pass
1Pass2Pass
PassPass

Your hand:
32
QJ3
AK8
97643

Opening Leads Chapter 8

Not every situation presents an ‘obvious’ opening lead. You may recall the saying that “God didn’t give you AK in the same suit for you to lead any other suit”, as well as the well known rule that you don’t lead an unsupported ace, especially when you hold AQ. There are, however, times when if you think things through, you can come up with what is so unorthodox that it makes so little sense to declarer that it can bring about a quite unexpected result. In the previous chapter we had to come up with an opening lead against 6S. We held AQx of spades. The lead from left field that I suggested was the ace of trumps.

Now for some more opening lead problems

a) Dealer South, EW Vul
The bidding has been:

SouthWestNorthEast
PassPass1Pass
1Pass2Pass
PassPass

Your hand:
32
QJ3
AK8
97643

Your lead?

Syndicate content