Polling You #69, Bridge Defense Day 5, More Leads Against Notrump

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Again we focus on the opening lead when opponents wind up in a Notrump contract.  However, this time the opponents may be playing in a lofty slam contract.  In this case, we may need to re-access our lead options.   Yes, against a 3 Notrump contract, leading an honor from our three card sequence and broken sequences often works wonders.  Yet as we shall see against a Notrump slam contract, in some instances your mileage may vary.   Also, while aggressive leads may work well against slam in a suit contract, such is usually not the case leading against a Notrump slam.

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Of course, as always aspiring Bridge players are still required to think.    Insightful Bridge players look far beyond looking at ones 13 cards.  Listening to the bidding is critical.  Be an inquisitive Bridge player, asking yourself questions like:

  1. What were the opponents’ bids? 
  2. How high did they go and what are their estimated combined points? 
  3. What do you know about their hand shape?
  4. How many points does that leave for your partner?
  5. Did your partner bid? (or perhaps pass an opportunity to double opponents’ artificial bid)
  6. Did the opponents auction proceed smoothly or did they hesitate, make inadvertent gestures and the like (players must never deliberately signal their partner), make inaudible noises and the like?

On our first three hands, the opponents play in 3 Notrump; the defender’s hands will be similar yet opening leads and third hand play will vary.  From there we boost the stakes with opponents in 4 Notrump, then three hands lead against 6 Notrump.   The last three hands we will add some more variables, mixing it up with the kind of hands you may see at the table.  For instance, we shall witness why leading from a fine 4 four card suit like AQxx can hurt (as opposed to a 5 card suit of AQxxx).  Okay enough talk, it’s time to step up, sit down, shuffle-deal-play…

Polling You 69, Hand 1

Board 3
South Deals
E-W Vul
♠ J 8 3
A K 2
Q 8 3 2
♣ 9 8 7
♠ K 9 7 6 2
7 6
7 6
♣ A 5 4 3
N
W E
S
♠ Q 10
J 10 9 8
10 9 4
♣ Q J 10 2
♠ A 5 4
Q 5 4 3
A K J 5
♣ K 6

West North East South
1 N
Pass 2 N Pass 3 N
All pass

Trick West North East South
1. W ♠ 6 ♠ 3 ♠ 10 ♠ 4
2. E ♠ 2 ♠ 8 ♠ Q ♠ A
3. S 6 2 4 A
4. S 7 3 9 K
5. S ♣ 3 8 10 J
6. S 6 Q ♣ 2 5
7. N 7 A 8 3
8. N ♣ 4 K 9 4
9. N ♣ A ♣ 9 ♣ 10 ♣ K

South opens 1 Notrump with 17 High Card Points.  Despite holding a somewhat shapely 5-4-2-2 hand, West does not have values, vulnerable or not.  While North has 10 HCP, with a flat 4-3-3-3 shape and Jack-third, prudent North players should invite bidding 2 Notrump.  South easily accepts the 3 Notrump game.

West leads fourth best Spade 6; leading the 7 does not count as top of an interior sequence (only valid from honors) and might give partner the wrong impression of a “top of nothing” honorless lead.  After the Spade 3 from North, East plays the Spade 10 with South ducking (Rule of 7, holding 6, 7-6= 1 duck).  Returning the Spade Queen to South’s Ace, West plays the LOW Spade 2 trying to show East preference for a LOW suit (Clubs).  South wins 4 rounds of Diamonds ending in the North hand.  Playing the Heart Ace-King West shows out, meaning East has 4 Hearts and a winner.  The declarer’s only hope is to finesse East for the Club King.  However West wins the Club King and remaining 4 tricks, South down 2.   In retrospect, while North was wise to show restraint only inviting with 2 Notrump (the Spade Jack-third was indeed worthless), the declarer was a bit unlucky with some wasted Diamond values in a mirrored 4-4 suit along with the failing Club finesse. 

 

Polling You 69, Hand 2

Board 3
South Deals
E-W Vul
♠ J 8 3
A K 2
Q 8 3 2
♣ 9 8 7
♠ K 10 9 7 2
7 6
7 6
♣ A 5 4 3
N
W E
S
♠ Q 6
J 10 9 8
10 9 4
♣ Q J 10 2
♠ A 5 4
Q 5 4 3
A K J 5
♣ K 6

West North East South
1 N
Pass 2 N Pass 3 N
All pass

Trick West North East South
1. W ♠ 10 ♠ J ♠ Q ♠ 4
2. E ♠ 2 ♠ 3 ♠ 6 ♠ A
3. S 6 2 4 A
4. S 7 3 9 K
5. S ♣ 3 8 10 J
6. S ♣ 4 Q ♣ 2 5
7. N 6 A 8 3
8. N 7 K 9 4
9. N ♣ 5 2 10 Q
10. S ♠ K ♠ 8 ♣ 10 ♠ 5

With nearly identical hands round the table South opens 1 Notrump with 17 High Card Points.  Despite holding a somewhat shapely 5-4-2-2 hand, West does not have values, vulnerable or not.  While North has 10 HCP, with a flat 4-3-3-3 shape and Jack-third, prudent North players should invite bidding 2 Notrump.  South easily accepts the 3 Notrump game.

This time West should lead the Spade 10, top of a broken sequence.  After the Jack from dummy, East covers and South again ducks (Rule of 7).  South wins the Spade return with West playing low to show suit preference for a Club return should East somehow gain the lead. After 4 Diamond winners, this time West initially pitches 2 Clubs.  Now when North plays the Heart Ace-King West can follow both times, leaving South to guess on a Club finesse (50 percent) or 3-3 Heart split (36 percent chance).  But actually playing the Hearts here is not entirely going against the odds.  Unless West holds Jack-third, if East holds 4 Hearts and the Club Ace, East is endplayed and on trick 13 must play a Club to South’s King.  But such is not the case, West winning the Club Ace and the last 3 tricks setting South 1 trick.

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Happy Bridge Trails and Tales,

BridgeHands 

 

Comments

  1. BridgeHands says:
    On our Poll #69, our pollsters asked and answered:
    .
    Which of the following is true about Notrump leads? Select the best answer.
    2 percent – Leading away from an unprotected Ace may be acceptable to promote a suit
    5 percent – Leading the “top of nothing” may be acceptable with no better lead
    11 percent – Both of the above
    8 percent – If opponents are in 6 Notrump, avoid leading away from unprotected King or Queen
    74 percent – All of the above
    .
    Excellent results Bridge friends. Whle 11 percent did not agree that “all of the above” was correct, like at the Bridge table a few players prefer to aggressively lead their unprotected King or Queen when the opponent are in a Notrump slam contract. Unfortunately, since the opponents typically have 33+ points when bidding a 6 Notrump slam, it is unlikely your partner will hold the required two honors adjacent to your King or Queen. If not, most of the time you will finesse yourself and make it easier for the declarer to make their slam contract – no longer having to guess how to finesse your nice honor.
    .
    So except under special circumstances, when the opponents are in 6 Notrump make a passive lead being careful not to prematurely lose your precious honor. Of course, if the opponents cuebid the suit and your partner doubled for lead direction, by all means LEAD AWAY!
    .
    Happy Bridge Trails,
    Michael

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