Helen Sobel was asked how it feels to be playing with an expert (She always played with Charles Goren) said: «Ask Charlie».
Here a few little tricks that will provide points rather than laughs, there is nothing brand new or startling about them, but they are all sound, and correct plays which are overlooked by great many players.
a) Suppose from the bidding you have decided to lead a trump. The suit has been bid and rebid by the eventual declarer and strongly supported by his partner. You choose trumps, as the safest lead, and or to cut down a possible crossruff. Your trump holding is: J10x.
Did you know you should lead the small one?
The opps obviously have all, or almost all, of their own chosen suit, therefore you are not attacking in it in the sense of trying to set up tricks. So you lose nothing by leading low. You are still getting a trump out of dummy and also preserving your side suit position.
But you gain, by the low lead, as opposed to the jack or the ten, every time your partner, has the singleton Q or K. Workout for yourself, what any reasonably astute declarer, with his high honors properly located, can do to your side’s «natural» trump trick when you lead the J and run into a singleton honor.
b) You are declarer at 3NT. This is the situation, the rest of the hand is unimportant, built up any one of thousands of hands around this suit:
10 8 5 2
With too many players the play of the six from dummy at trick one is almost automatic. But very short analysis should show that the ace will be the winning play, or at the worst break even with the six play, just about all the time. What can we infer from the opening lead?
First, the declarer, has either four or five cards in the suit. But we throw out the four card suit possibility from our calculations because in that case both plays come out just about the same. In any event, the opps cant run more than 3 tricks in the suit.
But second, and more, important, we can infer that the opening leader does not have K Q J of the suit or he surely would have lead the K. So playing for the suit to be 5-2, as we have decided to do, we can almost see the doubleton honor in the opening leader’s partner’s hand!
Thus if we duck the opening lead, all we are doing is unblocking the suit for the defense. Leader’s partner’s honor, will win the first trick his low card will be returned and the suit effectively cleared, with the opening leader retaining his two honors intact to pick up our ten spot.
But if we play the A, we effectively block the opps, so that two entry cards will be needed for them to run the suit-one to get out the now singleton honor in partner’s hand, and another to put the opening leader back on lead to run the suit.
Even if leader’s partner is clever enough to drop the honor on our A play, he may have the nine spot as the other card of his doubleton, or he may have two honors. In either instance we will automatically have a second stopper. Or even without these combinations the opponent on our left may be the one able to get in, and the defense then can’t come through our ten spot.
By the way, I suggest you lay down the cards if all these situations are difficult to visualize.
Even if the opening lead is from a six cards suit, suppose the lead card had been the 7 or 8 spot instead of the 4, playing the A in the first trick, is almost sure to catch a singleton honor, which is perfect for you. Finally if the suit is divided 4-3 you win by playing the A if the defense is not awake, whenever the opening leader’s holding is K 9 7 4 and partner is Q J 2.
Helen Sobel, as declarer, to guess a queen, would cross her legs and play the defender who didn’t look at her for the queen.