Poll #8, Opening lead against 6 Notrump, 12/1/2010

The auction starts peacefully enough with RHO opening 1 Notrump. With your 2=5=4=2 shape, you might even be tempted to bid if you held another primary honor and we not vulnerable. Next your LHO tries 2 Club, Stayman asking opener for a 4 card major. But then they do not find a major suit fit, surprise – surprise! The responder jumps up, up, up and away to 6 Notrump!

So with the opponents aiming to make 12 tricks, now is a good time to think about your long term plan to play and discard tricks.

When the opponents propel the auction to 6 Notrump, do we stick to our prior lead strategy or is there more to this auction than meets the eye? What’s going on with our lefty bidding 6 Notrump, eh? Ah, so many questions – so little time. Okay, everyone has their eyes on you – time to show your partner you’ve got the right stuff with your opening lead…

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  1. W A Wolff says:

    The Diamond queen? Unbelievable. How in the world would that ever serve to get us the needed 2+tricks?
    I support aggressive leads. There is a much better, though remote, chance that partner has a promotable club honor. I know; some would never lead an ace versus a NT slam.

    • Will Shepherd says:

      Partner must be completely broke for them to have a chance at all, and then I need to find the tricks in my own hand. Here I have one trick in clubs and I need a second in a red suit. I’ll only get it in hearts if declarer pushes that suit on his own, but diamonds I can start working on now.

      If the club lead is right because partner has a trick then so is absolutely anything else.

    • rex_little says:

      You’re kidding, right? What club honor could partner have which would be helped by the lead of your ace? If partner has the 10-x-x-x of clubs (swap one of his little ones for North’s 10 in the example hand) and nothing else (swap East’s jack of spades for North’s little one), the 10 will set up if you play the ace of clubs on South’s jack, but not if you lead it out and capture empty air.

  2. dunleslie says:

    I’m a beginer, but on board 4 why does south bid a heart instead of a diamond?

    (BridgeHands note – sorry for the typo! It *should* show FOUR Heart and four Diamonds, corrected earlier today)

  3. BridgeHands says:

    We have a quorum and the votes are tallied after the first day. With more than 120 votes over those in second place leading the Club Ace, the lead-leaders in first place are:

    ………Leading the Diamond Queen, top of sequence.

    How interesting! With exactly the same hand leading the fourth best Heart worked great against 3 Notrump. Yet here 64 percent of our voters went with the top-of-sequence Diamond Queen lead against 6 Notrump. It just goes to show that Bridge is not necessarily a game of “rote.” Rather, leads often are often contingent on many factors. As we demonstrated, the level of the contract and our holding is one of many factors.

    Those that went with the Club Ace lead hoping for a miracle (perhaps with the upcoming holidays?), we have too many points for partner to be of any help. And in our “Protected Content” analysis, we demonstrate why the responder must have a long Club suit – so we don’t want to set up THEIR suit. Otherwise, later one when they are running a loooong Club suit, you will be squeeeeezed out of your precious honors.

    Leading the fourth-best Heart also gives away slam on our illustrative hand in the Protected Content discussion. The lead goes right into the waiting four card Heart suit rebid by opener in response to 2C Stayman. So we want to wait, Wait, WAIT in the shadows for declarer to eventually break the suit -and take the Queen finesse that will inevitably fail.

    Leading the Spade 9 just happens to work *this* time on our illustrative hand since partner holds the J743. So while a passive lead against a 6 Notrump contract is usually best, we recommend the tried-and-true top of sequence lead of the Diamond Queen. Look at this way: since you hold the Club Ace and can play another top Diamond, later you can bare down to the Diamond 10 to set the contract. That way when you are discarding on their long Club suit, you can keep the lovely promoted Diamond 10 and three Hearts to the Queen. Okay?

    Sometime when you have a few moments on your hands, try Googling/searching for the term “bridge leads” and you’ll probably come across our write-up here at BridgeHands:


    And if you haven’t subscribed to our Newcomer-Novice newsletter since early 2006, perhaps you would enjoy reading our newsletter on Notrump Leads:


    Okay, on Friday yet again we will hold the same hand but the auction will have a new twist!

    See you soon,


  4. lakspieler7 says:

    I believe your last paragraph in your analysis is wrong. It should read, “when the declarer eventually tries finessing for the Heart Queen,” rather than the Spade Queen.

    BridgeHands response: correct you are! Many thanks – we’ve made the correction.
    Warm Regards, Michael

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