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Subj:.....Still More Opening Leads from Chapter 1, Part 4 (S534c)
From Chapter 1 - "Opening Leads", page 11

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 and then choose your opening
lead for each of the following hands.

 1 West 7 6 A 9 5 9 8 2 Q J 10 4 3 West Pass Pass North 1 Heart 3 NT East Pass Pass All Pass South 1 Club 1 NT

Here again a club lead is indicated even though South bid the suit.  Since South did not raise hearts or bid one spade over one heart, he should have at least seven minor-suit cards and is a favorite to have precisely four clubs.  The best chance to beat the contract is to lead the four of clubs and find partner with the ace or king of clubs (or maybe the nine).  Suppose this is the full deal:

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

Note that the four-of-clubs lead beats the contract: By leading clubs until the ace is driven out, the defenders will be able to win four clubs and the ace of hearts before declarer can develope nine tricks.  If you lead the queen of clubs, the suit blocks and declarer will make his contract.  As stated earlier: It may be right to lead fourth-highest from a three-card sequence if dummy or declarer is known to have four cards in the suit.

When your partner has been in the bidding, it is generally right to lead his suit.  Do not be discouraged when one or both opponents bid notrump after his bid.  For example:

 2 West 8 6 3 2 Q 7 4 10 3 J 9 8 2 West Pass North 1 Diamond 3 NT East 1 Heart All Pass South 2 NT

Lead the four of hearts.  If you decide to lead from three to an honor, the normal card to lead is the lowest; whether your partner has bid the suit or not.  The old rule from the dark ages - "Always lead the highest card of your partner's suit" - has no merit whatsoever.  In a vast majority of cases, you should lead the same card that you would lead if partner has not bid the suit.  Suppost these are the four hands:

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

Note that leading the four of hearts beats the contract.  Partner will win the first trick with the ace and return a heart, trapping the jack and limiting declarer to one heart trick.  If you lead the queen of hearts, declarer will win two heart tricks and make his contract.

 3 West Q J 10 7 2 9 5 10 9 8 4 8 3 West Pass North 1 Heart 3 NT East 2 Clubs All Pass South 2 NT

Lead the eight of clubs.  When your partner overcalls at the two-level, he advertises a good suit and wants you to lead it.  If you lead a club and the opponents make their contract, your partner will still love you.  However, if you do not lead his suit and as a result the opponents make their contract, your partner may say, or at least be thinking:  Howcouldagreatplayerlikeyou-

 4 West J 10 9 7 5 K 8 2 9 6 3 7 4 West Pass Pass Pass North Pass 2 NT Pass East 1 Club Pass Pass South 1 NT 3 NT

This time your partner opened the bidding with one club, so he may have a weak and/or short club suit.  The jack of spades is a more attractive lead than a club; especially since you have a probable reentry card - the king of hearts.

When an Opponent Bids Three Notrump
over his Partner's Preemptive Bid

Lead from strength, rather than length.  For example:

 5 West Q J 10 9 3 8 4 2 A K 6 7 5 West Pass North 3 Clubs Pass East Pass Pass South 3 NT

Without the preemptive bid, the queen of spades would be the normal lead.  But when there is a chance that declarer will win seven tricks in one suit if he gets the lead, it is better to lead from strength.  If partner gives a discouraging signal, you can lead a spade next.  It is unlikely that an original spade lead has any better chance of beating the contract than a spade lead at trick two.  Suppose these are the four hands:

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

Your partner will play the ten of diamonds to encourage you to continue leading the suit, so you will set the hand by winning the first five diamond tricks.  If you do not lead a diamond, declarer can win at least nine tricks.

 6 West A Q 5 J 10 9 7 2 5 Q 6 4 3 West Pass North Pass East Pass South 3 NT

If the three-notrump opening bid shows a very strong balanced hand - the jack of hearts is the normal choice for an opening lead.

But suppose you are informed that it is a "gambling" three-notrump opening, showing a long solid minor suit with little or no strength on the side (this convention is popular with experienced players, especially in duplicate bridge games).  Then you should lead the ace of spades.  It is not unlikely that declarer will be able to win nine tricks when he gets the lead.  So you must make every effort to win thefirst five tricks.  Leading  an ace is your best bet; so you can see the dummy and get a signal from partner before committing yourself.  Suppose these are the four hands:

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

You can win the first five spade tricks, but without a spade lead, declarer runs ten tricks.

When your opponents bid six or seven notrump, the strategy is to choose the safest lead, the one least likely to give away a trick.  For example:

 7 West K 9 8 7 3 10 4 10 7 5 J 10 2 West Pass North 6 NT East All Pass South 2 NT

Since the opponents did not bid any suit, you have nothing to guide you except the nature of your hand.  Do not lead a spade.  The seven of spades would be the normal lead against a lower notrump contract because you are trying to establish several tricks to set the hand; but primary concern is that your lead does not cost your side a trick:  Avoid leading away from an ungarded honor - the king, queen or jack.

The next question is what should you lead?  A club lead appears to be the safest choice, and the jack is the normal lead from J 10 x.  But another possibility is the ten of clubs.  Deceptive opening leads versus lower contracts are not recommended because they are more apt to fool your partner.  But versus slams, when partner is known to have a very weak hand, the odds are better.  This is when an expert is most likely to try to deceive the declarer by making an unorthodox opening lead.  Suppose you lead the ten of clubs and this turms out to be the full deal:

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

Declarer may believe the ten-of-clubs lead and play your partner to have four to the jack:  He may win the first trick with dummy's queen and then finesse the nine.  A good declarer is unlikely to fall into this trap (he would reason that leading the ten from 10 x is not a normal lead), but even if declarer does win his four club tricks, he still has only eleven winners.  He will try the two finesses, but with the king of spades and queen of hearts both offside, he will be set.  If West leads a spade, the contract is easily made.

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 8 West A 10 5 2 10 8 3 6 5 4 8 7 6 West Pass North 6 NT East All Pass South 1 NT
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Lead any diamond or any club; do not lay down the ace of spades.  Aces were meant to capture kings and queens, and it is usually wrong to lead an ace againts a notrump slam: unless you have two of them or the contract is seven.  You may wonder, why not lead a heart?  Leading from a ten is more likely to give away a trick than leading from a worthless suit.  For example:

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

Declarer has eight tricks in the minors and must win four in the majors to make his slam.  If you lead the ace of spades, he will win two spades and two hearts.  If you lead a heart, declarer will play the nine from dummy.  This gives him a third heart trick, and he can always win one spade.

If you lead a club or diamond, declarer must break the heart suit himself.  He can win the three heart tricks he needs to make his contract if he leads the jack of hearts and take a "backwards finesse."  But this is against the odds, so he will more likely lead a heart toward the king-jack and take a losing finesse.

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These are eight examples from the book "How To Defend A Bridge Hand".