Double Dummy 05

Before we start reviewing ‘double dummy’ problems from play in 2024, I would like to take another look at an interesting deal that I have reviewed some time ago, because it features one of my pet ‘likes’, the opening lead of an ace from specifically AQx against a No Trump contract.

Dealer N Nil Vul


After two passes, South opens 1NT, which is passed out. That is what happened nearly every time when NS were playing a weak 1NT. The opening lead was invariably the five of hearts, as recommended by our tutors: ‘fourth highest of longest and strongest’. When you have no other lead agreements, I cannot argue with it. But let’s look at it from the double dummy perspective. The opening lead is the ace of diamonds! Next, the queen of diamonds, which is overtaken by the king. Now the ten of hearts from East, covered by the jack and West wins the queen. Now, the six of diamonds to East, who cashed up the diamonds. Then a second heart and West now takes three heart tricks, for a total of nine tricks for the defence. Can any EW pair be expected to defend like that? Only double dummy you say. Not if East KNOWS that West has led from exactly AQx of diamonds! East signals encouragement and when West continues with the queen, East can overtake, knowing that declarer’s jack will fall. Then it is just a matter of following basic defence principles this being a low level No Trump contract. Look for your extra tricks, rather than just cash up what you can. West is pretty well marked with something in hearts and the chances of any diamond tricks running away are non existent, so East switches to the ten of hearts, preserving the diamonds for an entry for a heart continuation.

Have I convinced you? I suspect not. And there is another double dummy problem in this deal. Lets’ say it is West who is playing in 1NT. Think about how things might happen when that is the case.