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 Opening Lead for Intermediates 6 by Andy Hung

Opening Leads. They're the card that sets the tempo of all bridge hands, and it is the first strike that the defense gets. Sometimes declarer's contract is rock solid and the lead doesn't matter, or sometimes the contract is too high and declarer is destined to fail.

What is important is that we must make every effort to choose the best opening lead that will give us the best chance to defeat the contract. Are you ready?

Question 1

  Your Hand
 K 10 7 4
 10 9 8
 J 7 3
 A 6 4
Q: 1 - You are South.
East has opened a Weak-Two in Hearts and is subsequently raised to four. What do you lead?

 Your choice:
A: 4.

This is not the time to opt for a passive (trump) lead. We know that the opponents have a good heart fit, and when dummy jumps to 4, his hand must be fairly strong with potentially a source of tricks. If that's the case, we (the defense) do not have time to sit back and watch the hand unfold. We must be aggressive and take (set up) our tricks that we're entitled to.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 2

  Your Hand
 7 6
 K J 7 5
 8 5 2
 10 8 6 2
Q: 2 - You are South.
West opens a pre-emptive 3 and East concludes the auction with 3NT. What do you lead?

 Your choice:
A: 5.

Here is another auction where aggression is called for. We know dummy has long Diamonds so declarer is probably ready to run off 8 or 9 top tricks if we lead something passive. Our strongest suit is in Hearts, so it's best to go all out with the 5 lead.

Yes, leading away from a K-J holding can be very dangerous, but this auction has called out for aggression. If declarer does in fact have AQ, then quite likely no lead would have defeated this contract.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 3

  Your Hand
 10 9 7
 Q 6
 Q 9 7 4
 K 8 7 2
Q: 3 - You are South.
Your opponents have a limit auction to 3NT where West has made an invitational bid. What do you lead?

 Your choice:
A: 10.

This auction calls out for a passive lead. Why? The opponents seem to have a limited auction where West has made an invitational bid and East has accepted. Both opponents probably have thin values with nothing much to spare, so don't give anything away by making an aggressive lead.

The 10 is best as it is the most passive lead here. The good thing about this Spade lead is that West (dummy) won't have a major, so it might be possible that Spades is partner's suit!

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 4

  Your Hand
 8 7 5
 K 5
 Q J 7 2
 J 7 4 2
Q: 4 - You are South.
East opens 4 and ends the auction. What do you lead?

 Your choice:
A: K.

Whenever the opponents are in a game contract and one of the opponents is known to hold a long suit (source of tricks), be active and put on an aggressive defense.

This auction is no different. East has announced a hand with long Spades so this is not the time to lead a trump. You know the saying "when in doubt, lead trumps"? Scratch that out completely. A trump lead is often considered a bad lead unless the auction calls out for it (e.g. dummy is known to hold a singleton/void in a side suit, in that case a trump lead is best to cut down the ruffs).

Here, we must make the most of the defense before declarer takes his Spade tricks along with any other tricks that dummy will provide with. Therefore, a Spade and a Club lead is ruled out. We have a choice between the K or the Q, to which I think both are quite reasonable. Because of our weak hand however, I would opt for the K lead as it allows the possibility of a third round ruff.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 5

  Your Hand
 J 10 6 2
 J 10 5
 Q 7 4 3
 K 3
Q: 5 - You are South.
You are on lead against 3NT. What do you lead?

 Your choice:
A: J.

Are you getting the hang of it now? East, declarer, has announced a good hand with long Clubs. This calls out for an aggressive lead, but be careful about how far you go with this advice. Obviously a Spade or a Diamond lead is out as that is West's two longest suits.

Although East has announced a Heart stopper from the 3NT bid, we should still lead it. As Hearts is the unbid suit, it is quite likely the opponents' weakness. Our K is guarding the Club suit so if we're able to knock out declarer's Heart stopper immediately, we can hope to run the Hearts when we get back in with the K.

Another useful tip is, "Lead the unbid suit unless there is a better alternative available"!

Your result so far:
Open Question

Overall Results

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What next? You may enjoy playing our prepared hands series.
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