Bridge Deal of the Week (January 25 2017)

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Problem

The Auction:

West North East South
  Pass 1 Pass
2♦!* Pass 2NT Pass
3♣ Pass 3NT all pass

* Strong inverted minor rise

After some hemming and hawing the opponents reach a contract of 3NT. East becomes the declarer, so you have the opening lead.

What are you going to lead?

 

Solution

What is your best suit to lead? You have a 5-card suit of spades, four hearts and four clubs.

By listening to the bidding you know that the opponents have strength in diamonds and clubs, so you should avoid leading these suits (you have a void in diamonds anyway). At the same time the opponents have shown zero interest in major suits, which suits you fine. The unbid suit is often a good lead.

But should you lead spades or hearts? Most NT contracts are not taken down by aces, but by small cards in the defender’s long suit. You don’t have any honors in spades, but still, it is a 5-card suit and when the stoppers are taken down, your small spades might be promoted into winners. Provided that there are entries back to your hand afterwards.

As the only entry points to your hand are the Q and ♣K, that clinches it – you lead spades in the hope of regaining the lead with hearts or clubs later.

You lead your fourth highest spade – the ♠5 – so partner could use the Rule of 11. East wins the first trick with the ♠Q and leads the ♣2. You play the ♣5, the ♣J from dummy wins the trick (trick 2). The ♣9 is led from dummy to the East’s ace – now your ♣K10 become winners as the dummy’s ♣Q is left without protection (trick 3).

East leads the 2 next, you have no choice but to pitch a small spade, a small diamond is played from dummy. North wins this trick with the 10 (trick 4) and leads the 9. East plays a small heart and so do you, the J form dummy wins the trick (trick 5).

The declarer takes the next trick with the dummy’s A (trick 6) and leads the ♣Q. North discards a small diamond, your ♣K wins this trick and the ♣10 the next one (tricks 7, 8).

You lead a small spade, North wins the trick with the ♠A (trick 9) and leads hearts, East takes the trick with the K and leads a small diamond to the dummy’s ace (tricks 10, 11).

The declarer cashes in the ♠J from dummy (trick 12) and has to lead diamonds, so North takes the last one with the K (trick 13).

   A109  
   984  
   KQ1065  
   63  
 J43 Deal  KQ
 AJ6  K53
 AJ97  8432
 QJ9  A842
   87652  
   Q1072  
   -  
   K1075  

It is very important to choose the right opening lead against the no trump contract, as more often than not, the choice of lead decides the fate of the contract.

East needed 9 tricks and the declarer’s goal obviously was to set up diamonds and/or clubs to get the extra tricks needed. As you held four clubs, it was not an easy task. Setting up diamonds was also problematic for the declarer as North held a 5-card suit of diamonds and the pada A.

The outcome on this deal depends on which side is first to establish their long suit(s) before the other side can set up their long suit(s)while retaining entry points to the relevant hands.

Par Contract Analysis

The par contract on this deal is 3NT East-West.

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