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



2D was a transfer to hearts. South has hopes of two trump tricks, with the chance that declarer will go wrong in the play of the suit. But I wouldn’t count on it. It is generally not a good idea to lead ‘top of nothing’, especially in an unbid suit, for two reasons: partner will probably expect the lead to be from a doubleton and act accordingly, or you will succeed in making declarer’s play of the suit easier. Top of nothing from three small cards I would not recommend unless it is clearly warranted in your assessment, and top of four small is, in my opinion, even less attractive. That leaves the minor suits, so which one is more attractive? If you lead a diamond and choose the queen, while it seems safe enough there is the danger that you will expose the jack to a finesse, as in this deal. You may as well lead the five, which will be safe if partner has the ten or king, and it will help you set up a second or third round diamond trick. But my preference in such situations is for a more aggressive approach. Is there any real difference between the QD lead and the QC? Both leads require partner to have a high honour in the suit, but in the case of clubs, the king or ace will more than likely create the opportunity for a club ruff. Also, the lead of the queen will certainly mislead declarer if he needs to find the jack. Can we now see how the queen of clubs can be a devastating yet reasoned opening lead given the situation that has been presented here?

The only problem with the opening lead of the QC in this deal is: will partner be smart enough NOT to win the ace at trick one when declarer covers with the king in dummy? North should duck but encourage at trick one, trusting that partner is less likely to lead a singleton queen than a doubleton.