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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Are you having us on?

As if I would. On any day. Even maybe on this day. Recently, a rather unusual occurrence took place in an Open tournament. Your partner led the Diamond-smallQ against a major game. Dummy held Diamond-small 52 doubleton and you held Diamond-smallK3 doubleton. Diamond-smallQ held the first trick and your partner continued with the Diamond-smallJ which went to your Diamond-smallK which won the second trick! Had you been on top of your game, which you were not, you might have wondered where the Diamond-smallA had gone!

It was either in:

·        declarer’s hand (ducking once is understandable but a “double duck”, with no more diamonds in dummy? Spades were trumps!)

·        Maybe in your partner’s hand (they had not been prone much to underlead aces against suit contracts once, let alone twice)!

·        Maybe on the floor, at yours or the table from whence the board came?

·        Hidden in your hand? Unthinkable. You can see 13 cards and none of them is the Diamond-smallA. Actually, the disappearance of this card did not bother you in the slightest. At trick 3, you produced the modest Club-small8, so modest that it produced massive protests from the other three players at the table (yes, even dummy who forgot who they were!). You see, the board had no Diamond-smallA but two Club-small8’s since that card sat quietly minding its own business in dummy!

So what, that the other three observant players asked why your 13 cards had red backs while theirs were blue! So what?

Well, this was at an Open tournament and it was you, the same “you” as above who was on lead to 4Heart-smallx in the same event with the hand with which we left you yesterday. No joking, no kidding and had you bothered to check, all four players held cards of the same colour.


Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

South Deals
Both Vul
K 5 4
K Q 7
Q 10 9
A K 9 2
W   E
West North East South
1 NT 2  Pass 3 
Pass 3 NT Dbl 4 
Dbl All pass    


There’s quite a lot of opposition bidding above given that we have and have announced a strong no-trump type hand. We are also near top of the range, too.

We might have considered doubling 4Heart-small even if our partner had not doubled 3NT. However, with that double, our double became a stone- cold certainty! Indeed, a visitor from outer space might have considered that our double came a little too eagerly!

No worries… it’s your lead...and that's never a worry, is it?

The bidding did seem a little “frisky”, disrespectful to your mighty strong no trump. Our double did come in for some criticism:

Michael Cornell “Why are we doubling 4Heart-small? What have we got that we have not shown? Partner is still there, isn’t he? When I double with my potential 3 tricks, I have no idea what partner has?”

Your 1NT could be based on a single stop heart hold and you have an almost certain double hold. I would have thought that, combined with the fact that your partner does not have a 4333 1-count would sway you towards the red card.

One Panellist shared some concerns:

Stephen Blackstock “Spade-small4: Depends on who I believe, the auction doesn’t add up.”

I think it is the high card points you add up, Stephen, not the auction. Apologies for interrupting:

On the face of it South is 1651 (or some 7510 hand). North is approximately 6124. The obvious danger is a diamond ruff on dummy bringing in the suit without loss. A trump lead from my side will likely cost, so put partner in with the Spade-smallA for a trump shift.

The Spade-smallA is the mystery card. North needs it to have anything like the values for 3NT; East surely needs it to double 3NT. I choose to believe partner rather than the opponents. If the lead gets ruffed, most times we weren’t beating this contract anyway.”

See, we are in the real world where you trust your partner and not the opposition. Having partner on lead for a trump switch seems a very good plan and was echoed by:

Nigel Kearney “Spade-small4: Partner's double is most likely based on spade values and I'd like him to win and lead a trump through. Clubs can (probably) wait.”


Your partner did have spade value and perhaps you would have been dining out on your fine choice of opening lead on many days but the Spade-smallA was this day with the player who had bid the suit, dummy.

 On this day, on any day, would there be a problem if the correct answer was to lead from the top two honours in an unbid suit? Bruce is thus a very brave man:

Bruce Anderson “Club-smallA: partner is likely to have strength in spades for his/her double. So, I can see no need for heroics.

Declarer is likely to be 6/5 and if there are two hearts and a singleton or doubleton diamond on the table, there is nothing we can do to stop declarer setting up their diamond suit; the Heart-smallK lead may stop declarer ruffing diamonds twice if he/she has only 4 diamonds but, obviously, will cost a trump trick. 


Notwithstanding this is said to be a lead problem, I am still leading the Club-smallA.”

 Leading or leading away from our trump honours seems a suicidal long shot though no matter how the diamond suit was distributed, the lead away from QT9 did not seem any more attractive and neither drew any attention nor support.

 Yet, the “suicidal long-shot” did rate…from Bruce above and from Stephen before he rejected it:

 Stephen Blackstock “A long shot alternative is a low heart and hope partner holds the Heart-smallJ. This is very low percentage compared with the hope that East has the Spade-smallA – and that it stands up.”


And from a player I would not mind having on lead for my side:

attack 3.jpg


 Michael Cornell “Heart-smallK: Obviously a choice between Club-smallA or a trump. They have bid game on less than half the deck without a fit and I am going to trust RHO to be something like 7/5 and lead HHeart-small, risking costing a trump trick, but often gaining more by cutting a ruff (s) in the dummy.”

This is the same concept as those who start off with a low spade but is direct and to the point of cutting down diamond ruffs in dummy. Where the declaring side is at a high level with a modest number of high cards, they can only get their tricks with ruffs. So, stop them. Attack trumps. It may cost you a trick in that suit but it may not:

South Deals
Both Vul
A J 7 6 3
9 3
Q J 10 5 3
K 5 4
K Q 7
Q 10 9
A K 9 2
W   E
Q 9 8 2
A 10
8 5 4
8 7 6 4
J 8 6 5 4 2
A K J 6 3 2
West North East South
1 NT 2  Pass 3 
Pass 3 NT Dbl 4 
Dbl All pass    


So, North did not really have their 3NT bid but you can see what they meant. After trick 1, Michael Cornell was still on lead and could safely continue with Heart-small7. The defence would eventually take a diamond and a third trump trick. Not so on any other lead where you would soon be writing down -790.

North should have returned to 3Heart-small rather than try 3NT though I doubt that affected the end contract…except that East would probably be the one doubling.

It’s a good concept, that of cutting down the ruffs when the declaring side has minimal high-card points. Sympathies then this time to those who led a low spade as they were on the right track but got the wrong result. The above is true not just on 1st April but on any other day of the year you choose to play bridge.

Maybe other Panel members were too suspicious of the day to offer an opinion. We welcome them back next time.


For less experienced players and others.

If you are one of the “others”, give this one a go. It was played very well by a player of Restricted Open category. See if you find the right way.


North Deals
None Vul
A K 10
9 2
A K Q 10 8 7
A 3
W   E
8 6 5 4 3
A K 10 3
5 2
10 8
West North East South
  2  3  3 
Pass 4 NT Pass 5 
Pass 5  Pass 5 
Pass 6  All pass  


5Diamond-small showed 1 key card. 5Heart-small asked for the Spade-smallQ but 5Spade-small denied it. Undaunted, North bid on to slam.

West led Club-smallK…and your plan is? The card dealer gave each defender at least 2 trumps.

See you on Good Friday.

Richard Solomon

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