The defense question we are asked most frequently involves leading to partner's overcall. When partner makes a bid and you end up on the opening lead against notrump, we suggest you lead small from three or four to an honor. This hand is a perfect illustration of what happens when you keep an honor in your hand over the notrump bidder. When we defended this hand in the Regional Open Pairs last week, Charlene led the heart 6 from her holding and declarer took my queen with his king. After I gained the lead with the ace of spades, I led back the heart 10 and declarer covered it with his jack, hoping I held the ace. That card was of course in Charlene's hand, so she took that trick and was able to lead a heart back for me to take enough tricks to set the game.
Notice that if she leads the ace of hearts to begin with, the declarer now has two stoppers in hearts and will be able to develop his nine tricks and make his game contract. This is a good lesson for beginning players to take to heart. We have watched many defenders automatically lead the top card in partner's suit to their own disadvantage.
The regional tournament aw very good attendance both from local players and from out-of-town and out-of-state players. Attendance of new players was outstanding, with many beginners showing up and playing in events. There they listened as Bruce Ferguson, a nationally known player who lives in Boise, gave a talk about learning bridge and learning to correct mistakes in bidding, play and defense. We deeply appreciate Bruce's contribution of his time and talent to help improve our new players' knowledge of the game.