. .
.
Subj:   Still More Opening Leads from Chapter 1, Part 5 (S535c)
From Chapter 1 - "Opening Leads", page 15

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

North's two-clubs bid was artificial - the Stayman Convention.  Your partner's double indicated he had length and strength in the club suit and wants you to lead that suit.  Your correct lead is the nine of clubs.  Here is a possible layout where it takes a club lead to beat the contract:

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

Declarer should be allowed to win the first trick with the king of clubs.  When East gets the lead with the ace of diamonds, he can run four club tricks and beat the contract.  Note that without partner's double, your normal lead would be the ineffective queen of hearts.

The double of any artificial bid is a lead-directing double.  This applies in trump contracts as well as in notrump contracts.

 2 West Q 10 7 4 2 7 J 10 9 6 7 5 3 West Pass Pass Pass North 1 Heart 2 NT Pass East Pass Pass Double South 1 Diamond 1 NT 3 NT All Pass

When you and your partner have never bid, the double of any notrump contract - from one notrump through seven notrump - calls for the lead of the first suit bid by the dummy.  So here you must lead the seven of hearts.  Suppose this is the full deal:

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

The heart lead is the killer.  With careful defense, the contract cannot be made.  Note that without the double the normal lead is the four of spades.  This gives declarer an extra spade trick and the time he needs to develope his nine tricks.

 3 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 Double South 1 NT 3 NT All Pass

This is a repeat of hand #4 of the previous set of hands, with which I recommended that you lead the jack of spades.  The bidding here is the same except your partner doubles the final contract.  If you have never entered the auction and your partner doubles a notrump contract after he has bid a suit, it is a command for you to lead his suit.  Lead the seven of clubs.  These might be the four hands:

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

As you can see, it takes a club lead to set the contract.

Note that if your partner doubles a notrump contract after you (the opening leader) have bid a suit, he wants your suit led; this applies even if your partner or dummy have bid a suit.

In the next five deals you are looking for the safest possible lead.

 4 West Q 6 3 Q J 7 K 9 5 2 J 10 9 West Pass Pass North 3 Spades Pass East Pass Pass South 1 Spade 4 Spades

The jack of clubs is the best opening lead because it is the least likely to give away a trick.  The queen of hearts is a tempting choice, but dangerous.  For example, dummy may have  K 10 x and declarer  A x x, in which case declarer can win a third heart trick by winning the first trick with the ace and then finessing the ten.  If you had  Q J 10, the queen of hearts would be the indicated lead.

 5 West A J 6 3 Q 9 5 Q 8 4 J 6 2 West Pass North 2 Hearts East All Pass South 1 Heart

This time each suit has an unguarded honor card; there is no good lead.  A trump lead from Q x x, or a spade from A J x x, should be ruled out, so the unenviable choice is between clubs and diamonds.  Lead the four of diamonds, or the two of clubs.

 6 West 10 9 8 Q 8 4 A 7 5 2 K 7 3 West Pass North 2 Spades East All Pass South 1 Spade

Here again a passive lead is indicated, and a trump appears to be the safest choice.  Lead the ten of spades.

 7 West 7 Q J 10 9 A 7 5 2 J 6 4 3 West Pass Pass Pass North 1 Heart 3 Spades Pass East Pass Pass Pass South 1 Club 1 Spade 4 Spades

Lead the queen of hearts.  Although you generally choose a lead from among the suits that your opponent did not bid, it is okay to lead their suit if you have a four-card sequence, especially when there is no good alternative.

While we're at it, let me point out that a singleton trump is usually a poor choice for an opening lead; it will finesse your partner out of a potential trick from a variety of holdings.

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

In this case, you wish you did not have to make an opening lead.  A passive lead is indicated, but the opponents have bid all four suits and every lead looks like it might blow a trick.  It is usally better to lead from a suit bid by dummy, rather than a suit bid by declarer, and leading from the queen-jack of hearts looks better than leading from the queen of clubs.  Whether you should lead the queen or fourth-highest from Q J x x is debatable, but when dummy has bid the suit you should lead fourth-highest.  So lead the four of hearts.  Suppose these are the four hands:

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

Declarer has four possible losers (two spades, one diamond and a club) and can make his contract no matter what you lead, but the low-heart lead is more likely than any other to cause declarer to choose a losing line of play.  If you lead the queen of hearts, declarer, assuming you have lead from the queen- jack, will eventually finesse the ten so he can discard his losing club.  True, he could finesse the ten of hearts at trick one, but that is a rediculous play when he has so many better chances.  Declarer will win the first trick with the ace or king of hearts; after which there is a good chance he will be set.

¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»§«¤

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