†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††INTERMEDIATE BRIDGE COURSE†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
†DEFENSIVE PLAY OF THE HAND
Leads against No Trump Contracts:† Opening leads can make or break either declarer or the defense.† Unfortunately, the card selection must come before the dummy has been tabled.†† Even without seeing the dummy, however, the opening lead can be selected, both as to the best suit and the actual specific card within that suit, based upon preferential standard guidelines for opening leads.
1. Choosing the Proper Suit:†† One of the most well-known maxims in leading against a No Trump contract is to lead fourth highest from oneís longest and strongest suit holding.†† Although this is generally a good idea, it must be exercised at the right time and place, and is not always the most appropriate lead.†† Many times, the bidding itself can, will, and indeed, should influence oneís choice.†† If partner has bid, his/her suit is likely to be the most productive of the possible choices, especially if it represents the defending teams longest combined suit holding.†† Finally, the level of the final contract may, and, oft times, does influence the selection for the best card to lead.††† Which card from the following example hand should a defender lead against a No Trump contract under each of the listed conditions?
†††† 109762†††† 1) The contract is 3NT and your partner has bid Hearts.
†††† 86†††††††† 2) The contract is 1NT and no bidding on your side has occurred.
†††† A943†††††† 3) The contract is 3NT after one of the opponents opened 1 Spade.
†††† KQ†††††††† 4) The contract is 6NT.
1) 8 Hearts††††††† 2) 10 Spades††††††† 3) 3 Diamonds††††††† 4) K Clubs
††††††††† Conclusion:† The opening lead is defenderís chance to get a head start in establishing winners in order to either defeat the specified contract or to minimize the number of overtricks to which declarer is entitled.† It is critical to start with the suit offering the greatest potential for your side.† One must pick from a suit bid by either or both defenders, longest and strongest from amongst the suits not bid by the opponents, or from tricks easily seen as being winners.
2. Choosing the Card in Partnerís Suit:† †Once a defender has selected the specific suit from which to lead, the actual card from within that suit must be chosen.†† This specific selection is important for two reasons.† (A) The disadvantageous fact that the defenders cannot see each others hands must be overcome as quickly as is possible.† Thus, they must send each other messages about their hands by means of the specific cards they choose to play beginning with the opening lead.† (B) They must facilitate and maximize the opportunity of taking the maximum number of tricks to which they might be entitled.† In each of the following hands, you are leading your partners bid suit.†† Which is the best card to lead and why?
1) †††††††DUMMY†††††††††††††† 2)††††††† DUMMY†††††††††††††† 3)†††††† DUMMY
†† YOU†††† 962†† †PARTNER††††††† YOU ††††K85†††† PARTNER†††††† YOU†††† 96†† PARTNER
††† J3†††††††††††† KQ875†††††††† QJ3†††††††††††† A10962††††††† Q75††††††††† A10842
†††††††† DECLARER††††††††††††††††††††† DECLARER†††††††††††††††††††† DECLARER
††††††††† A104††††††††††††† †††††††††††††74†††††††††††††††††††††††††† KJ3
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In 1), you should lead the Jack, the top of a doubleton. You are essentially starting the suit by playing the high card from two from the short side.
In 2), the Queen is the choice, the top of touching cards in partnerís suit.† This tells partner that you do not have the next higher card but do have the next lower, unless you are leading from a doubleton.† The lead of the Queen will trap dummyís King.† If you had alternatively led the 3, Partner could win the first trick with the ten, but would be incapable of trapping the King from Dummy unless partner can get back to you hand, and this is not always possible.
In 3), the 5 is the preferred choice, lowest from three or more cards headed by a non-touching honor.† Partner can win the Ace and then lead back through declarerís K-J promoting your Queen.† If you were to have led the Queen, declarer would have gotten two tricks, one with the King and one with the Jack.
††††††††† Conclusion:†† When leading partnerís suit, one should choose the top of a doubleton, the top of touching honors, or low from three or more card headed by an honor.
3. Leading the Top of a Sequence:†† When leading against a No Trump contract under circumstances where partner has not bid, and no further information about the Opponentís suits is available, you choose your longest suit.†† One normally leads the fourth best unless one of the following holdings exists.††† If the suit has a 3-card or longer sequence, you lead the top card (J109X, QJ10X, etc.).††† If you hold a broken sequence, a sequence of two touching cards with a lower ranking card following a break in the sequence, (QJ9, J108, KQ10, 875, etc.) you lead the top of the two touching cards from the broken sequence. ††††If you hold an internal sequence, a sequence of† two or more touching cards with a higher ranking card in the suit (AQJX, KJ10X, Q109X, 10876, etc.) you lead the top of the two or more touching cards.†† In the following examples, you are leading your own suit against a No Trump contract.† Which is the best card to lead, and how many tricks can the defense develop?† What must the defense do to ensure they take their maximum number of tricks?
1)††† DUMMY†††††††††† 2)††† DUMMY††††††††† †3)††† DUMMY††††††††† 4)†† DUMMY
††YOU†† K3†† PARTNER††† YOU†† A7† PARTNER†††† YOU†† K2† PARTNER††† YOU† 74†† PARTNER
†J1096††††††† A752†††† QJ963†††††† 842††††† AJ1043††††††† 876††† KQJ83††††††† A62†
†††††††† DECLARER†††††††††††† DECLARER†††††††††††††† DECLARER††††††††††† DECLARER
†††††† Q84††††††††††††††††† K105†††††††††††††††††† Q95†††††††††††††††† 1095
1) Jack; 3††††††††††† 2) Queen; 3†††††††††† 3) Jack; 4†††††††††† 4) King; 5
†††††††† Conclusion:† When you are leading your own suit or an unbid suit, your first preference is to lead the†††† top of a sequence, or the top of a broken sequence, or the inside top of an interior sequence.
4. Leading a Low Card:† When you look at your long suit, you may not have a long, a broken, or even an internal sequence within the suit that you desire to lead.†† Instead, you have a suit containing one, or even two, honors not in sequence.† You will likely require some help from partner in order to establish winners in the suit, and so the best opportunity will develop if you lead a low card over to the hoped-for high card(s) of partner.†† In the following suit holdings, and once again, against a No Trump contract, which card should you lead, how many tricks can the defenders take, and what should they do to ensure that they take the maximum number of tricks available to them?
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† 1)†††††† DUMMY†††††††††††††† †2)†††††† DUMMY†††††††††††† †3)††††† †DUMMY
††† YOU†††† 65†††† PARTNER††††††† YOU ††††A2†††† PARTNER††††† YOU†††† 875††† PARTNER†
†† K9872†††††††††††† J43†††††††† Q763†††††††††††† K854††††††† AQ432†††††††††††† KJ
††† DECLARER†††††††††††††††††††††† DECLARER††††††††††††††††††† DECLARER
†††††††††† AQ10†††††††††††††††††††††††††† J109††††††††††††††††††† ††††1096
1) Low(7); 3††††††††††††††††† 2) Low(3); 3††††††††††††††† 3) Low(3); 5
†††† Conclusion: †When leading your long suit against a No Trump contract, lead a low card (fourth highest) if you do not have a 3-card sequence, or a broken or interior sequence.
5. Selection of the Best Option:† Now that we have listed (Items 1-4) guidelines as to how to pick the best suit, and the card within the suit selected, to lead against a No Trump Contract, assuming a 1NT opening bid by your right hand opponent and no further bids by anyone else, what card do you lead from each of the following hands?
††††††† 1)††† AK††††††††††††††††† 2)†† J963††††††††††††††† 3)††† AJ10762
††††††††††††† Q10854†††††††††††††††††† Q4††††††††††††††††††††††† K86
††††††††††††† J84†††††††††††† †††††††††QJ104†††††††††††††††††††† 84
††††††††††††† 763††††††††††††††††††††† K85†††††††††††††††††††††† 85
†††††††† †Conclusion:† Against a No Trump contract, with no help from the bidding, lead your longest suit.† With a choice of suits, pick the stronger.† If you do not have a sequence from which to lead, then lead a low card, fourth highest.† Now you know the origin of the guideline: ďFourth Highest from Your Longest and StrongestĒ.
6. Listening To the Bidding:†† When you are deciding upon which suit to lead, and some bidding has taken place by the opponents on their pathway towards a final No Trump contract, the bidding can oft times guide you into making the proper opening suit choice.†† As the opponents talk to each other via the bidding process, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from listening and subsequently gleaning the right path towards selection of the best opening lead.†† You are leading against a 3NT contract with the bidding having progressed as follows.† What is the best lead to make from the following hands?
†††††††††††††† NORTH††††††††††††††††††††† EAST††††††††††††††††††††††††††† SOUTH†††††††††††††††††††††† WEST
†††††††††††††† †(DUMMY)††††††††††††††††††††† (PARTNER)††††††††††††††††††††††††† (DECLARER)†††††††††††††††††††††††† (YOU)
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 1H†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† P
†††††††††††††††††††† 1S†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† P††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 2C††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††P
†††††††††††††††††††† 3S†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† P††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 3NT†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† P
†††††††††††††††††††† P†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† P††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† P
1)† 74†††††††† 2)† K10962†††††† 3)† 63†††††††††† 4) 65†††††††††† 5)† 87††
††† KQ842††††††††† Q75††††††††††††† J963††††††††††† AK85†††††††††††† A532
††† KJ43†††††††††† J109†††††††††††† Q83†††††††††††† AJ108††††††††††† KQ109
††† 98†††††††††††† J8††††††††† †††††KQJ10†††††††††† 862††††††††††††† 853
††††††††† Conclusion:†† If the opponents have bid a suit in the auction on their path towards a final No Trump contract, it is generally a good idea to avoid leading it if you have a constructive alternative.†† Paying close attention to the bids made by the opponents often can guide you to the best and most likely productive opening lead.
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