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Subj:.....Still More Opening Leads #1 (S531c)
          From Chapter 1 - "Opening Leads", page 35

From the book How To Defend A Bridge Hand
              by William S. Root
              Published in 1994 by
              Crown Publishing, Inc., New York

Study the bidding carefully on the previous page, and then
choose your opening lead for each of the following hands.
 

1.
. K 3 2
K J
8 6 5 4
Q J 7 2
10 9 8 4..
10 6 5 4 2
A 3.......
K x.......
J 7 6
9 7 3
J 10 9
A 8 5 4
A Q 5
A Q 8
K Q 7 2
10 9 6

Bids:
 
West

Pass

North

3 NT

East
Pass
All Pass
South
1 NT

Lead the four of hearts.  The declarer must drive out the ace of diamonds and the ace and king of clubs before he can win nine tricks, so, even though he has three heart stoppers, you can establish two long cards in hearts and beat the contract if you and your partner lead hearts at every turn.  The four of hearts - the fourth highest - is the correct card to lead:  This indicates that you are trying to establish long heart tricks, and would like your partner to return the suit when he gets the lead.

If you chose a spade, you would not beat the contract because only one long card could be established.  Leading a five-card suit is preferable to leading a four-card suit versus a three-notrump contract, unless the five-card suit is very weak and the four-card suit is very strong.

2.
. A 9 8 6 3
K 7 2
A 5
A K J
Q J 10 7
Q 6 3...
J 4.....
9 8 4 2.
4 2
J 8 5 4
Q 10 7 6 2
5 3
K 5
A 10 9
K 9 8 3
Q 10 7 6

Bids:
 
West

Pass

North
1 Spade
6 NT
East
Pass
All Pass
South
2 NT

Lead the two of clubs (or any club).  Declarer has ten top tricks.  Since the spade suit offers the only chance for two extra tricks, he will be set because the suit does not divide favorably.

The queen-of-spades lead would be desirable if spades were an unbid suit, but it is very dangerous when dummy has bid the suit.  In this case declarer can maneuver to win four spade tricks if you lead a spade.

Note that an opening lead of a heart or a diamond would give declarer one extra trick; not enough to make his bid this time; but leading from these combinations should be ruled out.  Against notrump slams, the best opening lead is the one least likely to give declarer an unearned trick: in this case, it is a club.

3.
. 7 6 3
K 10
A J
A K Q 7 5 4
K J 2....
7 6......
9 8 5 3 2
J 10 9...
A 10 9 4
Q J 5
Q 6 4
8 6 3
Q 8 5
A 9 8 4 3 2
K 10 7
2

Bids:
 
West

Pass
Pass

North
1 Club
3 Clubs
4 Hearts
East
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
1 Heart
3 Hearts

Lead the two of spades.  The bidding tells you that dummy has a powerful club suit, and, given time, the declarer is going to discard some of his losers.  This is clearly a time to attack - lead from strength.  Granted, it is lucky to be able to win the first three spade tricks, but whether you lead the suit or not, it is very unlikely that you will ever win any spade tricks unless your partner has the ace or queen.  Note that the spade lead beats the contract, while declarer can win twelve tricks with any other lead.

4.
. Q 8 5
7 2
A Q 10 9 3
K 6 3
A 3.....
J 10 9 8
7 6 4 2.
A 8 5...
7 6 2
K 6 4 3
5
Q J 10 9 4
K J 10 9 4
A Q 5
K J 8
7 2

Bids:
 
West

Pass
Pass
Pass

North

2 Diamonds
3 Spades
Pass

East

Pass
Pass
Pass

South
1 Spade
3 Diamonds
4 Spades

Lead the two of diamonds.  North and South both bid diamonds, so your partner figures to have at most one.  Since you have the ace of trumps and can regain the lead before declarer can draw trumps, there is an excellent chance to give partner one or two diamond ruffs.  Assume declarer wins the first diamond trick and leads a trump.  You should win with your ace and lead the four of diamonds, which your partner will ruff.  If partner returns a club, you will win with the ace, and give him a second diamond ruff.  Note that declarer would make his contract with an overtrick if you lead were a heart.

5.
. A 10 8
7 3
7 6 2
A K 9 5 4
J 5 2...
A Q 10 8
Q J 10 9
6 3.....
6 3
9 4
K 8 5 4
Q J 10 7 2
K Q 9 7 4
K J 6 5 2
A 3
8

Bids:
 
West

Pass
Pass
Pass

North

2 Clubs
2 Spades
4 Spades

East

Pass
Pass
All Pass

South
1 Spade
2 Hearts
3 Hearts

Lead the five (or two) of spades.  With length and strength in declarer's side suit - hearts - the obvious choice is a trump lead to cut down on dummy's ruffing power.  Note that declarer must give up two heart tricks before the dummy is void in hearts.  If you lead a spade each time you get the lead, the dummy will have no more trumps.  As a result, declarer will be unable to ruff any hearts and you will win four heart tricks.  Without a trump lead, the declarer could always ruff at least one heart in dummy and make his contract.

6.
. K 9 4
K Q 8
6 5 2
K Q 10 3
10 8 6 3
J 2.....
A Q 9 8.
9 5 4...
Q 5 2
9 7 6 5 3
J 10 3
A 7
A J 7
A 10 4
K 7 4
J 8 6 2

Bids:
 
West

Pass

North
1 Club
3 NT
East
Pass
All Pass
South
2 NT

 

Lead the eight of spades.  The fourth best diamond would be appropriate choice if you had a fifth diamond, but those in the know frown upon leading from four-card holdings such as A Q 9 8.  Note that the only lead permitting declarer to make his bid is a diamond.  The reason for leading the eight of spades is to discourage your partner from returning the suit; he can see that the eight is not your fourth best, and therefore should assume you are leading the top card of a worthless suit.  (Note that it would be wrong to lead the ten, because there are many combinations where it would give declarer an extra spade trick.)

Your partner will eventually get the lead with the ace of clubs.  Remembering that you led the eight of spades, and seeing the weak diamonds in dummy, he should switch to the jack of diamonds.

7.
. K 6 5
A J 3 2
A Q 10 9 8
4
Q J 10 3
6.......
J 7 6 4.
Q 10 9 8
A 8 7 4 2
9 8 5
_
J 7 6 5 3
9
K Q 10 7 4
K 5 3 2
A K 2

Bids:
 
West

Pass
Pass
Pass

North
1 Diamond
3 Hearts
5 Hearts
Pass
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
Double
South
1 Heart
4 NT
6 Hearts
All Pass

Lead a diamond.  Partner has made a "lead-directing double," calling for an unusual lead.  Leading an unbid suit would be a normal choice, and the double never calls for a trump lead.  So, the only unusual lead is the suit bid by dummy.  Partner will ruff the diamond lead and cash the ace of spades to set the contract.

Note that the opponents cannot safely escape to six notrump because South would be declarer.  Six notrump can be made if played by North.  Also, six diamonds can be made, but they cannot bid it over six hearts.

8.
. 10 5
A 6
K Q J
K Q J 10 9 4
K 7 4.....
5 4.......
10 9 8 7 3
A 6 2.....
Q 8 6 3 2
9 8 2
5 4
7 5 3
A J 9
K Q J 10 7 3
A 6 2
8

Bids:
 
West

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass

North
1 Club
3 Clubs
4 Hearts
5 Diamonds
Pass
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 Heart
3 Hearts
4 NT
6 Hearts

Lead the four of spades.  The bidding indicates a long and strong club suit will show up in dummy, so this is a time to attack: lead from strength.  If declarer has any losers in the side suits,he will discard them on dummy's clubs if you give him time.  You must try to establish a trick to cash when you win the ace of clubs, and the best hope is to find your partner with the queen of spades.

Another reason to rule out a diamond lead is that partner did not double the artificial five-diamond bid.
 

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These are eight examples from the book "How To Defend A Bridge Hand".  Buy the book, read it, and reread it.  It will improve your bridge game.

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