e-Vil Files 07

The two opening lead problems from the previous issue were set for a reason: not to show the reader that the lead of the ace from AQx makes sense and should be used whenever possible, but that it makes sense to have that option in the ‘opening lead repertoire’. Nothing can replace good thinking and logic, but a certain amount of imagination and lateral thinking is also required for you to become a really good defender. And I must also stress here that it is vital that your partner also reads this so you are on the same page.

1.You are South and the bidding has been 1NT from East, 2NT (invitational) from West, 3NT from East and it is now your lead from:


It looks like the obvious opening lead is a spade. If so, which spade? This is not a case of the possibility of any cheap spade tricks being won if you don’t lead the TEN from a top sequence like that. Many people also have an understanding that a TEN shows an interior sequence, so lead the six or even the five, partner will have to produce his/her highest spade anyway. How likely is it, though, that you will be able to set up sufficient spade tricks before declarer takes nine? The chances are that partner has no more than two spades, and if one is an honour, it will die soon enough anyway. There was no Stayman from West, therefore you can infer that West does not have four, so partner has at least four. Leading partner’s suit may prove more productive, but your small doubleton is unlikely to help.

I can make a case for leading the ace of clubs. This will not only tell partner that you have specifically AKx or AQx and also give you a clue as to which major to attack next. The only drawback is that leading the ace will give declarer the ‘tempo’. But then again, either a heart OR a spade lead will do that as well, if the wrong major suit is chosen. I would opt for the ace of clubs, in a very close contest with the FIVE of spades which might just lead declarer astray if he thinks I have only four of them. My panel of senior players were almost unanimous in choosing a spade lead, though one chose the heart eight, having done the maths and knowing that this is partner’s suit. There is little chance, I admit, that the club suit will provide enough tricks, but the value of being able to decide on your second step makes the club ace lead more attractive, to me anyway. IF you add that to your opening lead repertoire.

2. This time the bidding has been 1NT-2C-2H-3NT and it is your lead from:


The opening lead this time must surely be a no-brainer. The bidding has been confident, dummy will have four spades and declarer four hearts. Declarer is most likely to have the king of diamonds as well, so our only hope is in the club suit. If declarer needs to play on diamonds for tricks, we will have two diamond entries (hopefully), and the first one will remove declarer’s second club stop. If partner has the king or ace, a huge bonus but partner does not need anything like that for the club (QUEEN) lead to result in keeping declarer to as few tricks as possible. I would not even contemplate the ace of diamonds lead since it serves NO PURPOSE.