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Bridge in Paradise: by Neil Robinson

This hand was played in a Sunday duplicate game in Chiang Mai. No one was vulnerable and South dealt. This was the bidding:

Imagine you are sitting West, with the hand below. You have the awkward task of leading. Given the above bidding, what is your opening lead?

S: A8743
H: 84
D: 862
C: A92

Do you believe that South actually has the stoppers in both majors that he should have for his 3N bid (South is known for risky bids)? Do you lead your partner’s suit? Or your own suit? Or dummy’s suit? Or the unbid suit? The fate of the hand depends on the opening lead, so decide what you would do before looking at the full deal below.

At the table the two of clubs, the unbid suit, was led. The lead was ducked in dummy and the ten of clubs taken with the king in hand. Declarer then crossed to board with a diamond and led the singleton heart. East correctly went up with the ace (otherwise, declarer makes a heart trick to go with a spade—with the right guess—a club and six diamonds for the contract). East then led a low club back to West’s ace. West now switched to a diamond to pin the lead in dummy. Declarer led the eight of clubs from dummy, hoping that whoever held the queen would go up with it, or that it would fall. East did rise with the queen. He was reluctant to lead from the queen of spades into the king jack on board, so he led a second heart. Now declarer has the rest of the tricks—winning six diamonds, three high hearts and the first club trick for an over trick.
If you can see all four hands, it is not difficult to see how to defeat the contract. At the table however, defence is difficult, primarily because of the difficulty of working out what South has for his bid. The opening club lead did not work out well (although the contract could still have been defeated). An opening heart lead followed by a heart continuation (which is what South was hoping for) works out even worse and concedes the contract quickly. An opening spade lead probably dooms the contract. However, the best opening lead may be the least obvious—dummy’s strong suit, diamonds. Declarer has no entries to hand and is likely to be stuck on board and limited to seven tricks—six diamonds and eventually a spade. What lead did you choose?
I would like to hear from readers about their favourite hands—please do contact me at [email protected] Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes all players. We have members from seventeen different countries already. For information on the Club go to the web site

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Bridge in Paradise