THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
THE LEAD TELLS PARTNER THE STORY
Mark Twain said, “I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him.”
Sometimes, in bridge, it is the lead that tells partner how to kill the contract — as in this deal.
What should West lead against three no-trump? How would that steer East in the right direction?
Some players like to open two no-trump with 19 high-card points. I will do that, but only if the hand is full of plus-values: lots of aces and kings, good intermediates and, preferably, a five-card suit. This North hand has too many minuses, especially with respect to aces and kings.
South does not like to respond one no-trump, but has no choice.
West should lead the spade nine, top of nothing. (Remember, if you lead low from length in an unbid suit, you guarantee at least one honor in that suit.)
South takes the trick with dummy’s jack and calls for a low diamond. What should happen now?
East must be wide awake. Since South has the spade ace and king, he cannot also hold the heart ace. So East should win immediately with his diamond ace and shift to the heart three, the low card saying that he has at least one honor in this suit and is trying to take tricks there.
West wins with his ace and returns the heart seven, giving the defenders five tricks.
Note that if East plays second hand low at trick two, South can sprint for home with three spades, one diamond and five clubs.