Wednesday Play at The Hutt (11)

Board 14 from Wednesday 17/03/2021
Dealer E Nil Vul


Some Wests were in 2S, some in 3S, and four pairs actually got to 4S, a good assessment of the combined hands. We’re not going to talk about the bidding, we still need to learn things about both declarer play and defence.

Quite a few Norths led a club against a spade contract by West. Some led the ace and others the four. Leading any club is not a recommended opening lead. Why? Because it will more than likely help declarer, who is likely to have the king. Don’t forget that declarer is usually declarer because they have outbid opponents and therefore will almost certainly have more high card points.

If you lead the ace, you are looking for quick tricks but also likely to give a trick away. If you lead away from the ace, as when the Norths led their ‘fourth highest’, the four, you are relying on partner to have the crucial card, in this case the king. As it happens, South does have the king, so the poor leads of the ace OR the four of clubs come to no harm. An opening club lead, therefore, is not recommended; and a low diamond lead from the king and two ‘pips’ is also not always the best, as that may give declarer a trick with the queen when the king is favourably placed. From North’s point of view, the best lead should be the two of hearts, fourth highest from an honour card. South would win the king (NOT the ace, because third hand should play the lower of two touching cards, why mislead your partner?) and then realise that trying to cash the ace as well will result in declarer ruffing and at the same time setting up the queen as a trick in dummy, with possibly more heart tricks to follow later!

Defence is about reading partner’s lead and continuing accordingly, not just ‘returning partner’s lead’. Seeing the club void in dummy, a wise South might switch to a trump, a safe play. There are too many trumps in dummy to be able to stop declarer ruffing clubs but who knows, some declarers did manage to make as few as nine tricks when accurate and sensible play will give them eleven. Good defence can often produce a good result simply by leaving declarer to do the wrong thing!