Thinking Bridge

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Keeping the danger hand off lead…

EddieKantar
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Source: Philadelphia NABC Bulletins

Dealer: South Vul: None 

  ♠ 9 8   
  ♥ K 8 6 5   
  ♦ K J 5 4   
  ♣ 4 3 2   
♠ J 10 7 3                 ♠ K 6 5 4 2
♥ 10                       ♥ Q 9 7 
♦ 6 4 3 2                 ♦ 8 7 
♣ A 9 8 5                 ♣ Q J 10 
  ♠ A Q   
  ♥ A J 4 3 2   
  ♦ A Q 9   
  ♣ K 7 6   

 

West North East South
      2NT
Pass 3♣  Pass  3♥
Pass 4♥ All Pass  

Opening lead: ♠J. 

Bidding commentary: It pays to open 2NT with a balanced 20-21 count, five-card major notwithstanding. The opening lead should come up to, not through, the strong hand. If South opens 1♥, hears a 1NT response (likely) and raises correctly to 3NT, the strong hand will be the dummy. Seeing the strong hand on the table makes for much more accurate defense. 

Lead commentary: At a trump contract, a suit headed by two adjacent honors is considered enough of a sequence to justify leading the top honor. At notrump, three adjacent honors (J-10- 9), or the third card missing by one (J-10-8) is considered a sequence and the top honor is led. When the third card is missing by more than one place (J-10-7-3), lead fourth best. 

Further lead commentary: When partner leads a jack against a suit contract, third hand assumes a suit headed by the J-10, or shortness if the 10 is visible. It also might be from the K-J- 10-(x) (playing standard leads). Rarely, if ever, from a suit headed by the A-J-10-(x). One seldom underleads aces at suit contracts to begin with and never smack into the strong hand. Please. 

Play commentary: South, missing the ♥Q, is looking at a vulnerable club holding if East gets in. On the bright side, South is looking at a fourth diamond upon which a club can be discarded. To avoid an accident (East getting in prematurely), South crosses to the ♥K and then leads a heart to the jack (finessing through the danger hand). Even if West wins the queen, the ♣K is safe from attack. As it happens, the finesse works and 11 tricks are taken. “Eight ever, nine never” does not apply when there is a danger hand. Keeping the danger hand off lead takes precedence.

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