Poll #7, Opening Lead against 3 Notrump: November 29, 2010

The opponents bid 1 Notrump, 2 Notrump, 3 Notrump and you are on lead. Do you fire straight away using tried and true leads of rote?

Then again, maybe you like to throw a curve call.  Or are you one of those systematic types that goes through a rigorous pre-race checklist? Whatever your style, sooner or later it will be time to give it your best shot.  And as so often happens in Bridge, you only get one shot so use it wisely!   Remember, like in a vigorous trial proceeding, a good defense never rests!   Yes, we here at BridgeHands have our checklists and it goes well beyond those 13 cards we are holding…

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  1. W A Wolff says:

    Well, poor partner does not have much in HCPs. This leads one to believe the Q D is the better lead. I do NOT, NEVER, lead 4th best; hence, if I choose to go with the “room”, I would lead the 2 H.

    • Mike Stanley says:

      Don’t know that that’s “with the room,” W.A.
      But it’s my lead – because my partners and I
      play “Attitude Leads.”

    • Gordonimus says:

      Fourth best invariable gives away a free trick. I hate it too.

      • Mama Delia says:

        Finally, I went with the majority on this one, even though it was tempting to
        choose the top of sequence.

      • W A Wolff says:

        Looks like we are in the “near” majority – – just slightly superior. Funny thing about 3rd best (forgetting about 5th for a moment), I have found that opps just cannot handle it even when distinctly apprised – – believing it is top of nothing.
        Side benefit. Tried 3rd/5th against the “BOTS” in BBO; they have a rough time too.

  2. yogi99 says:

    Such wise assessment…thanks… I like this web site.

  3. BridgeHands says:

    At the end of the first day of polling, the voting turned out to be a two-way race. The “tried and true always lead top of sequence” crowd tallied 32 percent of the total vote, garnering five times the next vote (Heart 10 – we will come back to this choice later). However, with 55 percent of the overall vote and already 75 votes more than the “top of sequence” crowd, those who led the fourth-best Heart 7 from a five card suit clearly were the most popular.

    First off, we should be clear that few leads guarantee success. Like most card play situations, leads are all about playing the odds and capitalizing on the best (or least of evil) among the choices.

    When the opponents bid 1 Notrump – 2 Notrump; 3 Notrump, the defenders have a wealth of information to consider when making a lead. We have a good picture of the opponents shape, strength and even our partner’s strength. Be sure to login to your FREE Membership to view our protected content for a complete analysis and illustrative Bridge hand. The net conclusion ON THIS PARTICULAR AUCTION AND HOLDING is that the most favorable opportunity to set the opponents is to lead a Heart, typically the fourth best. Leading the Heart 10 suffers when the opponent holds Jack-third along with either the Heart Ace or King (partner cannot hold both based on the auction and your 9 HCP holding). In that situation, leading the Heart 10 would ultimately give the opponents two Heart stoppers – enough time to establish 9 tricks before you gathered your 5 tricks. However, leading the Heart 10 would be correct holding either of these hands:

    …..Q 10 9 8 3 2 – top of interior sequence honors

    …..Q 10 9 7 3 2 – top of touching honors in broken sequence

    So with our holding:

    …..Q 10 8 7 2 – lead the fourth-best 7 spot

    Just in case opponents hold Jack-third and the 9 spot. Notice in the prior two examples we hold the critical 9 in our hand.

    That’s one of several reasons why leading the Heart Queen is not recommended with our above holding. If partner does hold a primary Heart honor, the idea is to have pard immediately play it and come back to you with another Heart. After all, your partner may only hold a doubleton Heart suit, right? Leading the Queen would be right holding a touching broken honor suit like:

    …..Q J 9 3 2

    Okay, enough of sequence suit leads.

    On our upcoming polls this week, we will keep our hand but that’s where the similarity will end. With different auctions you’ll have an opportunity to ponder different leads.

    Speaking of leadership, Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare may have said it best:

    If you wish a General to be beaten, send him a ream full of instructions; if you wish him to succeed, give him a destination, and bid him conquer.

    Okay Bridge friends, enjoy the journey and always remember to keep your destination in sight.

    Happy trails, Michael

    P.S. – This hand (and other three hands in our Protected Content area) are essentially the same as covered by the legendary Bill Root in his classic book, “How to Defend a Bridge Hand” (hand #9, page 7). In fact, Bill’s book won American Bridge Teachers Association “Book of the Year” award in 1994.


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