15 APRIL 1995, Page 49


Lead astray

Andrew Robson

The most crucial card the defence has to play is the opening lead. It is said that over half of all contracts that start life in the balance are settled at trick one. It is also the most difficult card — there is no dummy to observe. Lacking information, sensible maxims like 'fourth highest of your longest and strongest suit' (against no trumps) or 'top of a sequence of touching honour cards' are used. Unorthodox open- ing leads usually end up backfiring, but when the bidding has provided clues, it is often fun to try something outrageous.

Dealer North North-South Vulnerable The Bidding North East South West 1+ Pass 21, Pass 2NT Pass 4, Pass Pass Pass After the opponents had bid strongly to 4,, West realised that there was nothing lit his hand to suggest that the contract Wouldn't make easily — precisely the time to experiment. With 4K likely to be in ';Ionimy on the bidding, West tried the Incredible lead of 4Q. South assumed the lead to be top of a sequence, showing the Jack and denying the ace so he played low lit dummy; East encouraged with 48 and West continued with a low 4 to East's Jack, dummy playing low again. East returned his third 4 to the ace and now came the final crushing blow for declarer ---- West led his fourth 4 which East trumped with his VJ. Declarer overruffed but West's V10 was promoted into the fourth defensive trick and declarer was defeated on a hand where 6'11 would make On any other lead.