Bridge Brief Broadcast Archive

Back to Bridge Brief Archive Index

November 26, 1999
Opening Lead Quiz and Safety Has a Place

Opening Lead Quiz

How good are your opening leads?

For example:

Sitting West you hold:

spade.gif (842 bytes)KQ93
heart.gif (841 bytes)AQ102
diamond.gif (837 bytes)4
club.gif (841 bytes)KQ109

The auction:

West North East South
1diamond.gif (837 bytes)
Double Pass Pass Pass

This question and 19 more are now posted online. The quiz is automatically scored and the correct answers provided.


Safety Has a Place

You and your favorite partner pick up the following hands. Playing in a rubber bridge game for a stake a little higher than you find comfortable, how do you play the hand? Would you play differently if your contract was a grand slam instead of a small slam?

spade.gif (842 bytes)AKQ6
heart.gif (841 bytes)A943
diamond.gif (837 bytes)K65
club.gif (841 bytes)K4
spade.gif (842 bytes)J5
heart.gif (841 bytes)KJ652
diamond.gif (837 bytes)AQ7
club.gif (841 bytes)A63


West North East South
1diamond.gif (837 bytes) Pass 1heart.gif (841 bytes)
Pass 4heart.gif (841 bytes) Pass 4NT
Pass 5heart.gif (841 bytes) Pass 6heart.gif (841 bytes)
Pass Pass Pass

Opening lead: diamond.gif (837 bytes)J

In a small slam, your entire focus should be on taking 12 tricks. You should be willing to give up any chance of taking 13 if it increases your chances for 12!

Clearly you have all the tricks you need as long as you avoid 2 trump losers. If hearts are breaking 2-2 or 3-1 then the contract is assured irrespective of how you play the trump suit.

What if the heart suit is breaking 4-0?

If you attack the suit the normal way by first cashing the heart.gif (841 bytes)A and West started with all four missing hearts, then you will have two trump losers (West will hold heart.gif (841 bytes)Q108 behind your heart.gif (841 bytes)KJxx).

You need to maintain maximum potential by cashing a top honor and leaving an honor in each hand to lead towards, if needed.

The answer is to cash the heart.gif (841 bytes)K!

If both opponents follow suit, then the suit is either 3-1 or 2-2 and you will make the hand. If West shows out (East having all four), then cash the heart.gif (841 bytes)A next and lead small towards the heart.gif (841 bytes)J (holding your losers to one). If East shows out (West having all four), then lead the heart.gif (841 bytes)J next. West will cover (if not let the heart.gif (841 bytes)J) and you can win the heart.gif (841 bytes)A. Now return to the South hand and lead towards the heart.gif (841 bytes)9 (holding your losers to one).

When faced with a contract that will make if things break normally, spend a little time to see if you can protect yourself if things break poorly. This combination is a good example.

The complete hand:

spade.gif (842 bytes)AKQ6
heart.gif (841 bytes)A943
diamond.gif (837 bytes)K65
West club.gif (841 bytes)K4 East
spade.gif (842 bytes)10743 spade.gif (842 bytes)982
heart.gif (841 bytes)Q1087 heart.gif (841 bytes)
diamond.gif (837 bytes)J109 diamond.gif (837 bytes)8432
club.gif (841 bytes)Q5 South club.gif (841 bytes)J109872
spade.gif (842 bytes)J5
heart.gif (841 bytes)KJ652
diamond.gif (837 bytes)AQ7
club.gif (841 bytes)A63

By the way, if you are in a grand slam, you have no choice but to play to avoid any losers. Cash the heart.gif (841 bytes)A (in case West started with the singleton heart.gif (841 bytes)Q) and then lead towards the heart.gif (841 bytes)KJxx. If RHO follows to the second round low, the odds slightly favor playing the heart.gif (841 bytes)K over finessing the heart.gif (841 bytes)J. As the cards lie in the example you will go down two in the grand slam when the small slam is a 100% guarantee! Grand slams are dangerous things indeed.

Gary King

�1999 The Bridge Companion. All rights reserved.