Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Lead Tip




                                                East
                                                ♠ T86
                                                ♥ K87
                                                ♦ J953
                                                ♣ K32

                        South
                        ♠ 752
                        ♥ QT6
                        ♦ Q84
                        ♣ AJ74


OL 6 Clubs

West                North               East      South
                        P                      P          P
1S                    P                      2S        All Pass

You are sitting south. Dummy ducks the lead and you put in the Jack, which holds. Seeing the King on the board, you want another lead through the King, so you switch to the weakest suit on the right and lead the diamond 4. Partner takes Declarer’s Ten with the Ace and returns the Queen of Clubs. Dummy ducks, as do you. Partner returns the Ten of Clubs, which you take with the Ace and declarer follows. What do you return? Here’s the situation:

                                                East
                                                ♠ T86
                                                ♥ K87
                                                ♦ J95
                                               

                        South
                        ♠ 752
                        ♥ QT6
                        ♦ Q8
                        ♣ 7


You hold the 13th Club. Generally you don’t want to give declarer a ruff-sluff, but here there is a good possibility that partner has a spade honor and it’s either a singleton or doubleton. The only way to score it is to lead the 13th Club and hope that Partner has a spade honor. Anything else and Declarer will get in and pull trump. Here’s the four hand layout:



                        North
                        ♠ J3
                        ♥ AJ52
                        ♦ A762
                        ♣ QT6


West                                        East
♠ AKQ94                                ♠ T86
♥ 943                                       ♥ K87
♦ KT                                        ♦ J953
♣ 985                                      ♣ K32

                        South
                        ♠ 752
                        ♥ QT6
                        ♦ Q84
                        ♣ AJ74


Bidding: North in first seat could open this hand with 12 HCP, but it’s pretty weak despite two aces, so passing is OK, too. The rest of the bidding is standard.

Play: Partner was a good player and didn’t lead either of his aces. Never lead an ace against a suit contract if you don’t have the King or it’s a singleton. And it’s even worse to underlead an ace. The six of clubs was a perfect lead, low from an honor. You, with an honor on the board and a higher honor in your hand, do not take the trick with the ace. In this situation you should hold your ace to cover the king when it’s played. Since partner led low (the 2 and 3 are on the board and you have the 4, so there’s only one card lower than her lead), she should be promising an honor, so there’s a good chance she has the queen, not declarer. Further, even if declarer does have the queen, you set up two good tricks by playing the Ace, declarer’s queen and dummy’s king. Unless you have some reason to think that declarer might hold the queen singleton, you should play the jack. So you play the jack and it holds.  

Your lead of the 13th Club allows partner to score her Jack of Spades. Declarer is placed in the position of either hoping your partner can’t ruff higher than dummy or trumping with an honor, which would give up a trick if North held Jxx. As it was, this was the setting trick as North scored her trump. Defense took 3 clubs, the aces of hearts and diamonds and the jack of spades. This is one instance where giving declarer the opportunity to ruff-sluff is worth the possibility of getting a trump to score when otherwise there is no hope for it. With any other lead, opponents make 2 spades.

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