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Subj:.....Still More Opening Leads from Chapter 1, Part 6 (S536c)
          From Chapter 1 - "Opening Leads", page 19

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.
 

Aggressive Leads Versus Trump Contracts

The next five deals illustrate cases where decisive action must be taken early:
 
1. West
7 3
A 9 5 3
10 9 8
K 10 6 2
West

Pass
Pass
Pass

North

2 Diamonds
3 Spades
Pass

East

Pass
Pass
Pass

South
1 Spade
2 Spades
4 Spades

Lead the two of clubs.  The bidding indicated that the dummy is likely to have a long and strong diamond suit.  When declarer gets the lead, his predeictable line of play is to draw trumps and discard his losers on the long diamond suit.  So, when you suspect that dummy has a long and strong suit you must lead from strength; get your tricks in the side suits before the dealer can discard them.  Suppose these are the four hands.
 
. K 10
8 7 4
A Q 6 4 3 2
9 4
7 3.....
A 9 5 3.
10 9 8..
K 10 6 2
8 5 4
Q J 10 2
J 5
A J 7 5
A Q J 9 6 2
K 6
K 7
Q 8 3

The only lead to beat the contract is a club.  If partner wins with the ace of clubs and switches to the queen of hearts, you can win the first four tricks.  Note that if you lead a spade or diamond, declarer can win the first twelve tricks.  The ace of hearts would also be an aggressive lead, but in this case will not beat the contract; it is usually better to lead from a king or queen, rather than to lead (or underlead) an ace.


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

Pass
Pass

North
1 Club
2 Spade
4 Spades
East
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
1 Spade
3 Clubs

Another way to beat a contract is to give your partner one or more ruffs.  This
bidding suggests that the opponents have eight clubs and eight spades between them; in which case your partner has a singleton club and three spades.  If this is true, you can give your partner two club ruffs and beat the contract by leading the ace and another club.  Suppose this is the full deal.
 
. K J 10 3
A Q 8 2
7 5
K J 9
A 7.....
J 5 4...
J 10 9 2
A 8 6 3.
6 4 2
K 10 9 6
Q 8 4 3
7 5
Q 9 8 5
7 3
A K 6
Q 10 4 2

It is dissappointing to find the dummy with only three clubs and partner with a doubleton, but you can still give him one ruff by leading a third round of clubs after you win the first spade lead.  Since partner has a natural heart trick, the contract will be set anyway.  Note that if declarer plays correctly, the contract cannot be set without a club lead.


 
3. West
A 4 3 2
K J 9 7 6
8 3
J 8
West

Pass
Pass

North

2 Spade
Pass

East

Pass
Pass

South
1 Spade
4 Spade

Lead the seven of hearts.  Here is another kind of aggresive lead: When you have length in the enemy trump suit (four cards or more) and a long side suit, it is often right to lead your long suit.  Your goal is to shorten declarer's trumps by forcing him to ruff.


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

Pass
Pass
Pass

North

2 Clubs
3 Spades
Pass

East

Pass
Pass
Pass

South
1 Diamond
3 Diamonds
5 Diamonds

Lead the ace of hearts.  Leading an ace is rarely right, especially from ace- queen, but here it is the only unbid suit and declarer may discard one or more losers if you do not lead the suit.  Note that it is unlikely declarer has the guarded king of hearts; since he did not bid three notrump over three spades.


 
5. West
Q 8 5
5 4 3
Q 8 6
A Q J 3
West

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass

North

1 Spade
2 Spades
4 Diamonds
Pass

East

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass

South
1 Diamond
2 Heart
3 Hearts
5 Diamonds

Lead the ace of clubs.  South's bidding has shown five-six distribution in the red suits, so he has only two black cards.  If you do not lead the ace of clubs, you may lose a club trick.  These might be the four hands:
 
. A J 10 7 3 2
9
J 5 2
10 8 4
Q 8 5..
5 4 3..
Q 8 6..
A Q J 3
K 9 6 4
Q 7 5 4
4
K 9 7 5
_
A K J 10 8
A K 10 9 7 3
6 2

You must take the first two club tricks, or the declarer will make his contract by discarding one of his losers on the ace of spades.

When to lead a Trump

A trump lead may be the way to beat the contract.  For example:
 
6. West
K J 9 8
A 5 4
7 5 2
J 10 9
West

Pass
Pass

North

1 NT
4 Hearts

East

Pass
All Pass

South
1 Spade
3 Hearts

Lead the four of hearts (or the ace and another heart).  Predictably, declarer is planning to ruff spades in dummy.  With your powerful spade holding, you should lead a heart to eliminate some of dummy's trumps.  In the following layout, it takes three heart leads to beat the contract.
 
. 6 2
9 8 3
10 9 8 4 3
A K 5
K J 9 8
A 5 4..
7 5 2..
J 10 9.
4 3
7 2
K Q J 6
Q J 4 3 2
A Q 10 7 5
K Q J 10 6
A
8 6

Declarer must give up a spade trick before he can ruff any spades in dummy.  When you regain the lead, you will continue with the ace and another heart.  Since the dummy will have no more hearts, declarer must lose two more spade tricks.

When declarer has a two-suited hand and you have a long and strong holding in his side suit, the best opening lead is usually a trump.


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

Pass
Pass

North

2 Spades
4 Spades

East

Pass
All Pass

South
1 Spade
3 NT
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Lead a trump.  North would have passed three notrump unless he had a short suit, so a trump lead is indicated to cut down dummy's ruffing power.  This might be the layout:
 
. K J 7
K 8 5 4
2
9 6 5 4 3
8 4 3...
J 10....
A J 9 5.
K 10 7 2
6 5
Q 9 7 2
Q 10 8 4 3
Q 8
A Q 10 9 2
A 6 3
K 7 6
A J

Note that declarer must ruff two diamonds in dummy to make his contract.  The opening trump lead, followed by another trump lead when declarer concedes a diamond trick, leaves dummy with only one trump - so he will be able to ruff only one diamond.  Without a trump lead, the contract cannot be defeated.

In the next deal, your side is vulnerable and the opponents are not.
 
8. West
A 6 2
J 10 6
A J
Q J 10 9 8
West

3 Clubs
4 Hearts
Double

North

3 Spades
4 Spades
Pass

East
1 Heart
4 Diamonds
Pass
Pass
South
2 Spades
Pass
Pass
Pass

Souths two-spades bid was a weak jump overcall.  North bid four spades as a "sacrifice," reasoning that if he is doubled, it will be less expensive than allowing the opponents to make a vulnerable game; or maybe they will bid to the five-level and be set.  You elect to double four spades and have the opening lead.  The opponents have far fewer high cards than your side and their main source of tricks will be trump suit, so lead the ace of spades to cut down on the number of trump tricks they can win.  Suppose these are the four hands:
 
. K J 9
7
8 5 4 2
A 7 4 3 2
A 6 2.....
J 10 6....
A J.......
Q J 10 9 8
3
K Q 9 5 4
K Q 10 9 3
K 6
Q 10 8 7 5 4
A 8 3 2
7 6
5

Upon seeing the dummy, you should of course follow up with another trump lead at trick two.  Declarer can still ruff one heart in dummy, but will be limited to eight tricks; setting the contract two tricks is the best you can do.  If you allow the declarer to get the lead before you play any trumps, he will be able to ruff all three of his hearts in dummy and actually make his contract.

Note that a five-heath contract would be set, so doubling four spades was the winning decision.  However, if North bid four spades at his first turn, as he should, a bid of five hearts would be tempting.


.
9. West
A Q 10 7
K Q 9 5
Q 10 8 2
6
West

Double

North

Pass

East

Pass

South
1 Club
Pass

Lead the six of clubs.  This is a rare auction, but it calls for a trump lead.  You made a takeout double and your partner passed; something he should never do unless he has a powerful five-card or longer club holding (such as  K Q J 10 x).  The trump lead is to help your partner draw trumps; to prevent the declarer from scoring tricks by ruffing with low trumps.
 
 

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These are nine 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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