Join Bridge Winners
Trust the Lead
(Page of 12)

In a Round of 16 match in the Open Trials, you have an awkward shape to handle.

None vul, East deals. As South, you hold:

South
6
AKQ8
107653
Q63
W
N
E
S
P
?

In your style, you tend to open all 11-point hands. A 1-of-a-major opening bid is expected to be a 5-card suit. A 1 opening bid shows 2+ diamonds and 11-15 HCP.

If you open 1 and partner responds 1, a 1NT bid is expected to be balanced. Also, your opening 1NT range non-vul is 10-12, so a 1NT rebid would show 13-15.

If you open 1 and partner responds 1, you do not have to be concerned about missing a heart fit. With 5 spades and 4 or 5 hearts, partner will bid 2 if non-invitational or bid 2 if invitational.

Your call?

South
6
AKQ8
107653
Q63
W
N
E
S
P
?

An opening bid is an opening bid. You can't afford to pass a clear opener just because the rebid might be awkward.

A case could be made for violating and opening 1 with this strong 4-card heart suit. This hand could play well in a 4-3 heart fit. However, experience has shown that it doesn't pay to violate. Partner's competitive decisions will be based on the assumption that you have 5 hearts and when you are a heart short there is too much danger that partner will muisjudge the auction in some manner.

You open 1. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
?

A 2 rebid would show 3-4-5-1 shape. A 2 rebid would be assumed to always have 4+ clubs. A 1NT rebid would show 13-15 balanced. Your expected rebid with your actual distribution is 2.

Your call?

South
6
AKQ8
107653
Q63
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
?

While you would normally have 6 diamonds for a 2 rebid, partner knows that a 5-card suit is possible with your actual shape. You would prefer to have a better suit to rebid, but you have to play with what you are dealt. Bidding anything but 2 would be needlessly taking a position.

You bid 2, ending the auction

W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
P
P

West leads the 7. Third and fifth leads. Standard signals.

North
AK5432
76
J92
52
South
6
AKQ8
107653
Q63
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
P
P

You win the ace of spades, East playing the 9. How do you continue?

North
K5432
76
J92
52
South
AKQ8
107653
Q63
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
P
P

Cashing the king of spades is clear. You need the trick, and you can't be sure of getting back to dummy.

You lead the king of spades. East follows with the 10. What do you discard?

North
K5432
76
J92
52
South
AKQ8
107653
Q63
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
P
P

Discarding a club is clear. You have to lose 3 trump tricks and 2 club tricks, so you can't afford a side-suit loser. You can take a quick heart ruff, but the opponents can prevent you from getting a club ruff.

You discard a club. West follows with the 8. Now what?

North
5432
76
J92
52
South
AKQ8
107653
Q6
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
P
P

It seems natural to go after the heart ruff now. However, there are pitfalls. You can't afford to lose a trick to the 8 of diamonds. It appears from the lead and carding that the spades are 3-3. If you go for the heart ruff West may get a chance to discard his third spade, and then you will be in danger of a trump promotion. This could defeat you if East has a singleton honor in trumps.

If you can trust the lead, it looks better to ruff a spade small before you go after your heart ruff. This will avoid any trump promotion danger in the spade suit. Furthermore, if the spades are 3-3 as they appear, you can then improve your chances even more by ruffing the third round of hearts and leading a good spade, discarding another club. Regardless of which opponent ruffs, you will have cut down on the danger of losing an additional trump trick.

Can you trust the lead? There are situations where a player might make a deceptive lead of small from a doubleton, but this doesn't figure to be one of them. It is a part-score hand, and the defense may have as much to do as declarer. West cannot know when he is making his opening lead that he can afford to risk fooling his partner. The lead is almost certainly honest.

You choose to go after hearts. You lead a heart to the queen, and cash the ace of hearts. Both opponents follow small, playing up the line. What next?

North
5432
J92
52
South
Q8
107653
Q6
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
P
P

You still need to ruff a heart in dummy, and the threat of West discarding a spade and scoring his 8 of trumps via a promotion is hanging over your head. In addition, East could have a doubleton heart. What is safest?

You can be pretty confident that East doesn't have a doubleton heart. West didn't overcall 1. More important, if West had J109xx of hearts he certainly would have led a heart rather than a spade. It is safe to ruff the third round of hearts small in dummy if you so choose. The fourth round might not be so safe.

The best bet looks to be to ruff a heart small. You can then ruff a spade small, and lead the queen of hearts. This will be sufficient when West has 4 trumps and 3 hearts, which looks like the most dangerous layout.

You choose to cash the king of hearts, discarding a club. West follows with the 9, and East the 10. What next?

North
5432
J92
5
South
8
107653
Q6
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
P
P

You have no choice but to play your last heart. If you do anything else, the defense can play 3 rounds of trumps and you will be a trick short.

You lead the 8. West plays the jack. What do you do?

North
5432
J92
5
South
8
107653
Q6
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
P
P

You can't afford to ruff small and be overruffed. Discarding another club is no good, since the defense can draw dummy's trumps. You must ruff high and hope there is no trump promotion.

You ruff with the 9. East overruffs with the queen, and returns the 8 to West's king. West leads back a diamond to East's ace. You have to lose two clubs, making the contract. The full hand is:

West
Q87
J953
K4
AJ108
North
AK5432
76
J92
52
East
J109
1042
AQ8
K974
South
6
AKQ8
107653
Q63
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
A
9
6
1
1
0
K
10
3
8
1
2
0
6
2
Q
5
3
3
0
A
3
7
4
3
4
0
K
9
2
10
3
5
0
8
J
9
Q
2
5
1
8
3
K
2
0
5
2
4
J
A
5
2
5
3
8

Could the defense have improved?

West
Q87
J953
K4
AJ108
North
AK5432
76
J92
52
East
J109
1042
AQ8
K974
South
6
AKQ8
107653
Q63
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
A
9
6
1
1
0
K
10
3
8
1
2
0
6
2
Q
5
3
3
0
A
3
7
4
3
4
0
K
9
2
10
3
5
0
8
J
9
Q
2
5
1
8
3
K
2
0
5
2
4
J
A
5
2
5
3
8

A trump lead would have defeated the contract. However, that is unrealistic. West is always going to lead one of the majors, and after that the defense has no chance. East did the best he could by overruffing and returning a small trump, but declarer had his 8 tricks in.

Should North have bid over 2?

West
Q87
J953
K4
AJ108
North
AK5432
76
J92
52
East
J109
1042
AQ8
K974
South
6
AKQ8
107653
Q63
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
A
9
6
1
1
0
K
10
3
8
1
2
0
6
2
Q
5
3
3
0
A
3
7
4
3
4
0
K
9
2
10
3
5
0
8
J
9
Q
2
5
1
8
3
K
2
0
5
2
4
J
A
5
2
5
3
8

There is no reason to improve the contract to 2. N-S have at least an 8-card diamond fit, and more likely than not a 9-card fit.

Should North have boosted things to 3? That would not be a good idea. For one thing, that would be invitational, and North isn't worth that. Also, there is every reason to think that N-S will buy the contract for 2. East doesn't know there is a good diamond fit. From his point of view the hand is a misfit. He is unlikely to balance now, having not acted earlier and heard his partner pass twice.

Should E-W have gotten into the auction?

West
Q87
J953
K4
AJ108
North
AK5432
76
J92
52
East
J109
1042
AQ8
K974
South
6
AKQ8
107653
Q63
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
A
9
6
1
1
0
K
10
3
8
1
2
0
6
2
Q
5
3
3
0
A
3
7
4
3
4
0
K
9
2
10
3
5
0
8
J
9
Q
2
5
1
8
3
K
2
0
5
2
4
J
A
5
2
5
3
8

The only chance would have been for West to make a takeout double. With neither vul, this sort of aggressive action tends to pay off. West may have chosen to pull back because the 1 opening bid didn't necessarily show diamonds. Against a standard 1 opener, a takeout double would have been more attractive.

At the other table, West did make a takeout double over the Precision 1 opening. North bid 1, East bid 1NT, and that ended the auction.  South did well to lead a diamond, but later he shifted to spades rather than continuing with a third round of diamonds, and when declarer guessed the queen of clubs he had 8 tricks.

Many Precision pairs require the 2 rebid to be a 6-card suit, and they rebid 1NT (if in range) or 2 with the 1-4-5-3 distribution. I have never understood this. If responder is 3-3 in the minors he is left with a blind guess, since opener would bid the same way with 1-4-3-5 shape. It has to make more sense for the 2 call to always be a real suit. Since the 1 bid doesn't show diamonds in the first place, how bad can it be to bid 2 with a 5-card suit?

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