By Ken Masson
Bridge is a partnership game which means that we have to take 26 cards into consideration, not just the 13 in your own hand, especially when we are defending a contract. The illustrated deal provides a classic example where only one pair out of 15 East-Wests managed to defeat South’s contract by paying attention to the bidding and making a lead from which declarer could not recover. The hand was played at the Lake Chapala Duplicate Bridge Club in Riberas.
The bidding was short and likely repeated at most tables where South opened 1 NT showing a balanced hand with between 15 and 17 high-card points and North bid 2 clubs asking South if he held one or two four card majors (the Stayman convention). 2 diamonds denied the requisite hearts or spades so North re bid 2 NT and, holding a maximum for his bid, South...
Before making the opening lead, West reviewed the bidding. While it is quite common to lead fourth best of your longest and strongest against a no trump contract, West concluded that would not be a good idea in this case. Firstly, he held a weak hand with little opportunity to establish and cash defensive tricks; secondly, the bidding implied that East held around 10 high card points as the opponents had not made a move towards slam; thirdly, East most likely held between 4 and 6 spades as the bidding had shown South had fewer than four spades while North had a maximum of four of that suit (with five or more he would have transferred to spades).
With all this information, West placed the spade 10 on the table and soon he was rewarded for his efforts. No matter how declarer played the hand he couldn’t establish and cash 9 tricks before the defenders had 5 and the contract was defeated. But on any other lead the timing was on declarer’s side and the contract came rolling home.
So whenever your hand is very weak and you’re on opening lead try to consider what might be in partner’s hand; you could be well rewarded.
Column: Bridge by the Lake
Ken Masson has been playing, teaching and writing about bridge for more than 40 years. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Ken has been living in the Toronto area since 1967. He and his wife and bridge partner Rosemarie have been wintering in Lakeside since 2006. Even after all these years of playing they find bridge to be a constant challenge and enjoy sharing some of their triumphs and mishaps with Ojo readers in each column.