Hand of the Week #34

This week's featured hand was randomly dealt out at the Monday 15 December bridge lesson. Vulnerable against not, your partner deals you this hand:

S T 8 4
H K 5 2
D Q J 7 2
C A Q 9

The easy part first: partner passes and your RHO opens 1S. You aren't tempted to bid, are you? If it had been two passes to you, your hand is just barely worth 1D opening, planning to pass almost any response from partner. But after the other side opens, there is no reason to stick a bid in with an ugly flat 12-count. Doubling doesn't "show you have an opening bid," it shows a desire to compete in any of the three unbid suits. You aren't short in spades, and you don't have four hearts. Should be an easy pass.

Now for the real question: with your side silent, your opponents bid 1S - 2S - 4S, and you are on lead. What do you lead?

Given the bidding, you'll be fortunate to find your opponent with a single useful face card. If you could expect a scattering of values in your partner's hand, you would probably lead the DQ and try to set up your best suit. When partner is hopelessly weak, that's a less appealing lead that risks giving up your chance to ever win a diamond trick, if declarer has both the ace and king. You should be looking for your safest opening lead, preserving your chance to beat 4S by winning one heart, one diamond, and two clubs. The only lead that doesn't threaten to cost you a trick immediately is a trump. The full hand, rotated to make South declarer:

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

The trump lead pays big dividends this time, since dummy has a singleton. Not only did you avoid endangering any of your own high-card winners, you are off to a good start at preventing diamond ruffs in dummy. On that lead, it's impossible for declarer to make his contract. The best he can do now is down one, by playing the DK, a spade to his hand, ruffing a small diamond with dummy's last trump, and pinning his hopes on the club finesse. If he isn't alert to the danger his small diamonds pose, a sloppy declarer might try the DK at trick two and a club finesse at trick three, in which case you'll lead trumps again and set him two.

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This page last updated 23.12.08
©2008 Gordon Bower