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A Fatal Lead

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Making the opening lead poses a big problem for many players because the clues to the location of the declaring side's high cards may not be revealed in the auction, and the leader may have no idea of where his partner's help may lie. The declaring side is also not above trying to mislead the defenders to deflect them from the best line of defense, so the opening leader often has to look in his own hand to determine how best to start the defense. We teach some principles of leading that have general application, such as leading from the top of a sequence of honors or leading the fourth highest of the longest and strongest suit, and, perhaps most importantly of all, to lead partner's bid suit (if he has made a bid).

We also teach some leads to avoid, and in my opinion, the one to avoid most is a suit the opponents have already bid. While there will be auctions in which the declaring side has bid all four suits and this restriction is not valid, usually there will be at least one unbid suit and often that is the best lead.

If you look at the hand in the diagram, you can see that a club lead helps the defenders in two ways: it sets up club tricks immediately, and it avoids giving the declarer a tempo in developing his ninth trick. The defensive side will score three club tricks, two hearts and a diamond for down two. I was the fortunate recipient of the lead of the jack of diamonds, giving me five easy diamond tricks and three obvious spades, and because the defenders never attacked the club suit, I was able to develop a couple of heart tricks and make my contract with an overtrick.

August is the last month to qualify for the North American Open Pairs event, a grassroots competition that starts with qualifying at the local level. There are four flights of players who can become qualified, restricted to beginners, intermediates and experienced players and the fourth flight open to all. The finals will be held in Detroit in the spring at the North American Bridge Championships, and the four pairs who qualify to represent our district will have a subsidized trip to that event. Contact us if you like competition and would like to get into the event.

Boise Bridge Club, 3085 N. Cole Rd., 208-327-0166, www.boisebridgeclub.com.

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