The Rule of 40 by Leuben Zaykov
On 17 April, 2013 At 18:40
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Let’s start with an example. The auction goes:
|1||Pass||2NT (11-12 HCP)||pass (You)|
(You) : 109x AJx xxx A108x
What to lead?
First, let’s analyze the auction. The raise of 2NT to 3NT promises (12) 13+ HCP at least. Therefore partner’s MAXIMUM is 7 HCP (very optimistically 8 if both opponents are on the minimum). Responder’s 11-12 + 9 (yours) + opener’s (12) 13 ≥ 7! Let’s try to determine how many tricks you can make. There are 40 HCP in the deck (The Rule of 40!) and the play is for 13 tricks. Roughly each trick is won by 3-3½ HCP, disregarding any suit lengths.
HINT #1 —Partner’s hand can produce about 2 tricks based on point count (HCP). You have 2 tricks yourself, so it looks like 3NT is makeable.
Not so fast! Partner may have a long suit and, hopefully, declarer cannot make 9 tricks before knocking off your 2 Aces.
HINT #2 —Partner must have 5-card suit. Which 5-card suit?
It’s unlikely to have clubs after 2 NT. That leaves hearts or spades. If spades, however, partner must have 2+ honors and that almost empties his/her hand. So it leaves the hearts as the only option.
J of hearts seems the best lead opposite:
5 small hearts with 2 entries
5 hearts with a top honor and an entry.
TEST YOUR JUDGEMENT AND FIND THE BEST LEAD
|Hand # 1:||Hand # 2:|
|1||Pass (You)||1||pass||1||Pass||1||Pass (You)|
|2NT||Pass||3NT||All Pass||2||Pass||3NT||All Pass|
Hand # 1: Find a lead with QJx, J9xx, KJx, Jxx
Hand # 2: What is the expert lead with K1087, Axx, 10x, A10xx
HINT: Apply the above considerations!
You have 9 HCP. Provided opponents play 3NT with 24+ (most probably with 25+), that leaves your partner with (7) 6 HCP and you should play partner for 5-card diamonds suit and an entry. The lead is J of diamonds. Don’t be afraid that the opponents might have A and Q of diamonds. Then partner probably has either 2 entries or stops one of the opponents suit, hopefully spades.
The opponents play 3 NT, not 4. Most probably it’s a 4-3 fit (the declarer seems to be 4-3-3-3 or 4-3-2-4 and dummy balanced, i.e. no singleton). You have 11 HCP. Partner can’t have more than 4 (optimistically 5). Lead a small heart, you have too many clubs to hope that partner has 5.
Always analyze the auction. Visualize what hand partner must have to succeed, both in auction and play! Don’t forget The Rule of 40 —Each deck contains 40 HCP.
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