Play Hands On Leads Against Suit Contracts
From Better Bridge (9/3/14)

13 Dealer NORTH: Both vulnerable

NORTH
♠10 8 3
♥AQ8
♦7 8 3
♣Q932
WESTEAST
♠AQ962♠7 5
♥64 ♥K 2
♦QJ7 ♦10 9 6 5 4 2
♣J84♣10 7 6
SOUTH
♠K J 4
♥A J 10 9 5 3
♦A K
♣A K 5
WESTNORTHEASTSOUTH
passpass 1 ♥
1 ♠2♥pass 4 ♥
all pass

Lead:♦Q. The spade lead is unappealing and so is J-x-x in clubs. Either a trump or a diamond lead is reasonable. The Q-J-x is less risky and on most hands will be more productive than a trump lead.

Play: Declarer wins as East discourages. If South now takes the heart finesse, East wins ♥K and switches to ♠7. West wins, cashes a second spade and plays a third spade, ruffed by East. One down.

Notes: (1) The correct play is to reject the heart finesse. Win ♦A, lead ♥J and when West plays low, win the ♥A. Lead a second heart, drawing trumps. The spade ruff has vanished. South can deduce from West's 1♠ overcall that West began with five or six spades to the A-Q and that East is therefore short in spades. South can afford to lose two spades and the ♥K, but not the spade ruff.
(2) Even though not intending to finesse in hearts, South should lead the jack. Many a West with K-x will cover an honour. Result: no heart loser. However, West would not play the king if South leads a low heart.
(3) If East began with K-x-x, declarer can always be defeated.
(4) 3NT can be defeated on the normal low spade lead.
(5) If South does take the heart finesse, it would be an error for East to return a diamond. In a suit contract, the Q lead denies the K and A. Therefore South holds ♦A-K and with only two diamonds in dummy, a diamond return is futile. To defeat 4♥, three more tricks are needed. There are no more heart tricks or diamond tricks. (It is highly unlikely that the ♦Q lead was a singleton.) Clubs cannot yield enough tricks (with ♣A-K-x, West would have led a club, not the ♦Q). Even if West had not bid the spade switch is best.

14 Dealer EAST: Nil vulnerable

NORTH
♠9 2
♥A 7 6 5
♦K 10 5 2
♣7 6 4
WESTEAST
♠A J 10 8 7 3♠K Q 6
♥K 10 2♥8 4
♦J 9♦A 7
♣10 3♣A Q J 9 8 2
SOUTH
♠5 4
♥Q J 9 3
♦Q 8 6 4 3
♣K 5
WESTNORTHEASTSOUTH
1♣pass
1♠ pass3♣pass
3♠ pass4♠ All pass

Lead: ♦2. As dummy has shown a long strong suit, North should not make a passive lead. Do not lead a trump, do not lead a club. When choosing between A-x-x-x and K-x-x-x, lead from the K-suit.

Play: Declarer should win ♦A, play A K and a spade to the ace. The ♣10 is run when North plays low. South wins A K and should switch to ♥Q. The defence takes 2 hearts, 1 diamond and 1 club.

Notes: (1) After East's jump to 3♣, any action by West below game is forcing.
(2) If West ducks in dummy at trick 1, South wins ♦Q and switches to ♥Q. However, West should realise that North would have led the K from ♦K-Q-x-x. Thus, the ♦2 lead marks South with one top diamond at least and it cannot gain to duck at trick 1.
(3) West keeps a top spade in dummy as an entry later to the clubs, if necessary. As dummy has the ♠Q as an entry, there is no point in South ducking the first round of clubs.
(4) After winning ♣K, South could cash the ♦Q before switching to the ♥Q. A low diamond however, is fatal — North wins and the defence can no longer collect two heart tricks.
(5) If North led a heart at trick 1, this would give West the ♥K and the defence cannot collect two heart tricks.
(6) If a club is led at trick 1, West should win ♣A (the lead may well be a singleton), draw trumps and then set up clubs. No diamond trick for the defence. The same applies after a trump lead (draw trumps, set up clubs).

15 Dealer SOUTH : N-S vulnerable

NORTH
♠K 9
♥QJ98642
♦95
♣K10
WESTEAST
♠Q643♠J72
♥10 7♥5 3
♦AQ83♦7 6 4 2
♣543♣AQ92
SOUTH
♠A 10 8 5
♥A K
♦K J 10
♣J 8 7 6
WESTNORTHEASTSOUTH
1NT
pass4♥All pass

Lead: ♦6. As there is no evidence on the bidding that dummy has a long suit, there is no urgency to find an attacking lead from a dangerous holding. The club lead is worst and the spade lead is also abysmal. Both the heart and the diamond are passive leads. The trump is riskier with the suit bid only by North.

Play: ♦6 — M.U.D. from three or four rags — J — Q wins. Then ♦A: East plays the 7. If East played low on the second diamond, West might read it as a doubleton and play a third diamond. This would allow North to throw a club. After East's ♦6-then-7, West sees that a third diamond is futile. The natural switch is to clubs, dummy's weaker suit East cashes two clubs, one off

Notes: (1) On ♥3 lead (bottom from two trumps) the contract could also be defeated taking 2 clubs and 2 diamonds later.
(2) The ♣A or a low club lead allows North to make the ♣K and so the contract.
(3) A low spade lead can give North 11 tricks! ♠2: 5 - Q - K. Then, ♠9:7-8-3; ♥A; ♥K; ♠A, discarding a minor loser, and when the ♠J drops, the ♠10 is high for a second minor suit discard
(4) If South is declarer in 4♥ after a transfer sequence, West should lead the ♣4 or, second choice, a trump. Both defeat the contract. The ♦A lead gives South the ♦K, while the ♠3 lead is also fatal: ♠3: 9 — J — A; spade to the king; heart to the ace; ♠10 : Q — ruffed (If West fails to cover, a minor suit loser is discarded from dummy). Next a heart to the king draws the trumps and the ♠8 is high, allowing a minor suit discard from dummy. Note how dangerous it can be to lead from J-x-x, J-x-x-x, Q-x-x or Q-x-x-x.
(5) 3NT is on for North-South but that is impossible to judge in the auction. Most pairs would play in 4♥.

16 : Dealer WEST: E-W vulnerable

NORTH
♠J 7 4
♥632
♦A 10 7 4 3 2
♣8
WESTEAST
♠K 10 3 2 ♠6
♥10 7 5 4 ♥A K J 9 8
♦9 6♦K 8
♣Q 7 4♣K 10 6 5
SOUTH
♠AQ985
♥Q
♦Q J 5
♣A 9 3 2
WESTNORTHEASTSOUTH
pass pass 1 ♥ 1♠
2 ♥2♠ 4 ♥All pass

Lead: ♦Q. The ♣A is abysmal and despite North's spade support, the ♠A is a poor choice. North's raise does not promise the king. The ♦Q is the only lead that is not repulsive.

Play: The ♦Q is taken by North's ace. As the ♦Q denies the king and the ♦K does not drop, North knows that a diamond return is futile. North should switch to the ♣8, won by the ace. The club return is ruffed spade to the ace, club ruffed. Down two.

Notes: (1) West and North are just good enough to raise. With only five losers and strong suits, East is worth 4 ♥.
(2) 4 ♠ is a good sacrifice if 4 ♥ is on. As 4 ♥ can be defeated without too much difficulty, 4 ♠ is foolish. With so many defensive values, South should defend and if South chooses to defend, North should not overrule that decision.
(3) On ♦Q to the ace and a diamond back, 4 ♥ makes.
(4) On ♠A lead the contract can be beaten but only by one trick. The ♠A is valuable as an entry for the second club ruff. ♠A and a second spade allows 4 ♥ home. The defence has to find the club ruff for success.
(5) The ♥Q lead allows 4 ♥ home. Declarer wins, draws trumps and sets up the clubs, losing just three aces.
(6) If North ducks the ♦Q lead again 4 ♠ will make.
(7) If North takes the ♦Q with the ace and returns a spade, South wins the ace and then has to find ♣A and a second club for North to ruff to defeat the contract. It is far easier for North to find the club shift than South. As North needs to find three tricks after the ♦A, the spade return is futile. East is marked with a singleton or void in spades and the defence cannot collect more than one trick in spades.

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