26 SEPTEMBER 1998, Page 63


Lead astray

Andrew Robson

THE question of whether to lead an unsupported ace against a small slam is one that has vexed experts over the years.There is no right or wrong answer but it is sensible to lead an ace when you have little hope for a second trick but not when your hand contains promising defen- sive prospects.

Look at West's hand — would you lead 4A against 6V ?

Dealer South North-South vulnerable

49 6 K Q J 8 6 • 6 4

# Q 8 5 2



45 4

3 2 N

V 4 V 7 2

♦ Q J 9 872 W E ♦ K 5 3

A .1 7

4109 4 3

• A K 8 7

V A 109 5 3

• A 10


The Bidding South West North East


2* 4,

pass 6V pass pass pass West's decision to lead 4A was surely misguided. His good secondary cards in both 4s and ♦ s — and his 4J which would be neutralised after 4A lead strongly suggested a more patient approach. Either ♦ Q or 40 would have been a more sensible lead.

Declarer won West's switch to ♦Q with his ♦A, drew trumps, cashed 4K, played 4A, 4K and trumped a third 4 in dummy. He then led 4Q an discarded his losing ♦ 10. Contract made.

It appears as though West's 4A open- ing lead, allowing declarer to score 4K and 40 separately — had donated declar- er a slam in which he would otherwise have failed. Not so — can you see why?

On ♦ C) opening lead, declarer wins ♦ A, draws trumps, plays 4A, 4K and trumps 47 noting West's 40, 4J and 410 fall with interest. He crosses back to a trump and leads the master 48, discarding dummy's ♦ loser. The amazingly fortu- itous 4 layout renders the contract make- able on any lead. Did you notice?