Wednesday, August 5th, 2020
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Since the selection of the opening lead in defending against no trump or suit contracts, game or part - game is often the most crucial decision a defender faces operating in the dark with just 2 things to guide him - the bidding and his own hand. Of course not even the best players of Bridge can find the killing lead every time they are on lead.

Today let us test you - the reader on opening leads with a few challenging hands. In the first illustration, placing the reader in the west seat, the bidding goes: south 1NT, north 3NT. On lead with the following hand as west what is your opening lead?





=========

West

=========

J 10 6

A 7 3

J 9 6 4 3

8 2

=========



In the second illustration as west you hold.





=========

J 7 6 2

K 8 5

9 4

Q 10 7 3

=========



The bidding goes with





==============

South North

==============

1H 2D

2NT 3H

3NT All Pass

==============



In the third illustration as west you hold:





==========

K 7 6 2

Q 7 2

10 9 6 4 3

3

==========



The bidding preceding the opening lead is:





================

South North

================

1S 2C

2S 3D

3NT All Pass

================



In the fourth illustration the bidding goes:





================

South North

================

1S 2C

2NT 3NT

================



West holds:





=========

K J 9 5 2

9 8

A 8 3

7 6 4

=========



What should he open with?

In the last illustration west holds:





==========

A 10 7 6 2

A 3

K J 9

8 7 3

==========



The bidding has goes:





===========================

N E S W

===========================

1C Pass 1H 1S

3H Pass 4H All Pass

===========================



What should be his opening lead?

Let us start from this illustration. Perhaps you led the club to lead through the strength of dummy. With K J 9 in diamonds which is the unbid suit, many players retain a strong prejudice to lead away from ten ace holdings for fear they are walking into the danger hand where the Q and A both can win 2 tricks.

Nothing is sacrosanct in Bridge. Here it is far more dangerous not to lead a diamond rather than to lead one, for the diamonds are likely to disappear if dummy is strong in clubs. In this hand, attack is the best defence for you still have the trump control.

Leading the JD, opener looking at the following NS hands:





=========

North

=========

K J 8

K J 7

6 4

A K Q 9 5

=========





=========

South

=========

9 5

Q 9 8 5 4

A 10 2

10 4 2

=========



Has no choice but to take it with the ace, and lead a spade as his best play. But most declarers will attack trumps first. Once they do it, you have nailed the declarer. Winning the ace of trumps after ducking first, 2 further rounds of diamonds locks declarer in the dummy with no way back to his hand to draw trumps. Any other opening Lead other than diamonds gives defence no chance.

In the first illustration, the 4th best diamond is the normal correct opening lead since you have AH as entry. In the second illustration choice between two 4 card suits can be difficult. Although the major is usually preferred but here its texture is too thin. Therefore, a club lead is preferable.

In the third illustration, with 3 suits already bid, the attack on the unbid suit is mandatory despite it being a 3 carder, which can mislead the partner. But it also deceives the declarer. Declarer and partner held:





=========

East

=========

8 5

A 9 8 6 3

8

Q J 9 7 2

=========





=========

South

=========

A Q J 9 4

K 5 4

K J 5

10 4

=========



On deuce of hearts, partner wins and plays back 6H with dummy holding:





=========

10 3

J 10

A Q 7 2

A K 8 6 5

=========



When declarer takes the KH, partners 6H cannot be a doubleton for that will give declarer 5 hearts which were not within the bidding sequence. Therefore, unblocking QH and later on declarers finesse in spades, you can lead the heart to down the contract.

In our 4th illustration, since south has bid your best suit, it is pointless harping on spades. Try something more worthwhile. Lead either from the short unbid major or the 3 carder diamonds with the hands as under.





==========

North

==========

6

A Q 6 3

10 9 4

A 10 9 8 2

==========





==========

East

==========

8 7 4

J 10 7 2

K 7 5 2

K 5

==========





==========

South

==========

A Q 10 3

K 5 4

Q J 6

Q J 3

==========



As said in the beginning no hard and fast rule applies to opening leads but following the bidding sequence closely, the best lead is the one that helps in breaking ground.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019


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