Hand of the Week #23

We feature another opening lead problem this week, from the Friday 15 August game. This time you hold:

S J T 7 3
H A T 7
D J 7 4
C A 5 3

And, if you weren't given an auction, your normal reaction would probably be to lead the SJ against a suit contract and the S3 against a notrump contract. That's as it should be. But at the table, your choice of which suit to lead will almost always be influenced by the bidding. Here is how the bidding went at my table:


North has shown a red two-suiter. South's pass promises that she likes diamonds better than hearts. Either the deal is a complete misfit, or your opponents have found a fit in diamonds, and North intends to make this contract by ruffing hearts in the dummy and spades in hand. The way you stop this is by leading a trump. In fact, if your opponents each bid a suit and then agree on a third, you need a pretty compelling reason to consider leading anything other than a trump. On this deal, lead a small diamon, followed by another diamond when you come in with one of your aces.

Dealer West
Both vul
S A 4
H Q 9 8 3 2
D K T 8 6 3
S K 6 2
H K J 5 4
D 9 5 2
C K T 8
[table marker] S J T 7 3
H A T 7
D J 7 4
C A 5 3
S Q 9 8 5
H 6
C J 9 7 6 4 2

I was North. My opponents helpfully led spades at trick one, and continued them when they took their heart winner. I was allowed to take nine tricks for a top. They can hold me to eight tricks by leading diamonds once, and to seven tricks by leading diamonds twice.

As for the bidding: my decision to open in second seat is highly questionable. It wouldn't be wrong to pass this deal out. If North does choose to open, the rest of the bidding as posted is standard: South can't go to the 2-level to show his clubs; and after the 2D bid, South has to assume that North has only five hearts, and either four or five diamonds, and take his pick.

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This page last updated 18.08.08
©2008 Gordon Bower