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



Is North’s bidding reasonable? Very much so. Is South’s? Few will agree, but I chose to keep bidding out my shape because: North could well have three hearts and even if only 2-2 in the majors, I did not think that, unless North had a completely solid diamond suit, 3NT would play better. As it happens, every other pair was in 3NT and nearly every one of them failed when declarer did not see the only correct play. A club was led and declarer then played the ace of diamonds, East following with the jack. Now there is only one possible play, to lead a low diamond and hope East has a doubleton KJ. East did but the declarers who failed followed with the queen! West of course then made the nine and two down was the result.

As it happens, according to Deep Finesse, 3NT makes four and 4S makes five. I was somewhat conservative in 4S and tried to make it safely and took a different line to DF but still made for 100% at our club (I have not checked all the X-Clubs results). I have since writing this checked with X-Clubs and there were only two others in 4S and one of them did make five. I feel like a failure now!

The ‘leading question’ remains: what is West’s best opening lead against 4S bid as described? A case can be made for a trump, to cut down any ruffs in what is marked as a short trump suit in dummy. Should it be the ace and another? That is somewhat unilateral, a low trump lead is generally recommended from Axx, at least you then keep some control. But I would lead a low club, because if there are any losers that might go away, they are surely in clubs. That was, as it happens, not the case.

But this is about opening leads, not results. I can not agree with anyone who chose a heart looking for a heart ruff, because a) partner needs to have entries for that to happen and b) partner is likely to have a potential heart trick anyway and if that is so, a heart lead could kill it.

The reader may like to follow the play in 4S given a club lead. Is the play that makes five foolproof or would you try to find a safer play, and if there is one, what would that be? Try it out by clicking here.