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 Mix and Match 5 by Ben Norton

Mix and Match 5

Here are five more interesting lead problems. As South which lead do you think is most likely to break the contract?

Question 1

  Your Hand
 10 7 2
 K 10 3
 Q 7 2
 K 4 3 2
Q: 1 - What will you lead against 5?

*3=transfer to Spades


 Your choice:
A: 2. When the opponents make a failed try for slam, as shown here by their brief trip on the cue-bidding roundabout, the best policy is to lead aggressively, since the enemy often have enough strength to make their game contract. However, this hand is an exception. You can expect to have the majority of the defensive strength, such that partner won’t have many supporting honors, and you don’t have an attractive lead. Leading any of the side suits rates to give away a trick to the strong hand on your right, so you should opt for the passive trump.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 2

  Your Hand
 K J 7 2
 K J 9
 Q 10
 K 7 6 2
Q: 2 - Your opponents compete to 3. Your lead.

*Double=support, showing three hearts


 Your choice:
A: J. The opposition rate to have a nine-card Diamond fit, so there’s no need to lead a potentially dangerous trump given that they’re splitting 2-2. It’s a choice between the side suits. You could lead a Club, since partner supported those he’ll probably have five of them, but dummy’s going to be short, so you could easily be leading into declarer’s tenace or setting up a ruffing finesse for him. A Spade carries the same risk of giving away a cheap trick. Your best bet is to lead a Heart, preferring to lead through the probable length than around to it, but seeing as the stronger of the opposition hands is on your left, try the Jack. The Queen is more likely to be in dummy than with declarer and it may be necessary to surround declarer’s Ten.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 3

  Your Hand
 Q 7
 10 6 5 3 2
 Q 6 4
 A K 8
Q: 3 - Your opponents meander into 4. What do you think?

*2=game-forcing check-back Stayman


 Your choice:
A: A. You can tell that partner has a singleton Heart, since West has promised four and declarer three with his 2 bid, but that doesn’t mean that you should lead a Heart on the go, paving the way for a ruff. Partner can’t have much in terms of strength, so the remaining trump honors are likely to be with the opponents. If you lead a heart declarer may well be spooked by the imminent danger of a Heart ruff, causing him to bash down the A K, dropping your Queen and making him look like a hero. If you lead a normal-looking top Club and make the obvious continuation there’s a good chance that your Q will take a trick. Also, it may be necessary to cash three Club tricks straight away before declarer gets some discards.

If you had x x, a heart lead would be ideal, because it could persuade declarer not to finesse against partner's Q x x.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 4

  Your Hand
 4 3 2
 J 10 5
 K 9 8 6 5
 K 9
Q: 4 - Your thoughts?

*3=five-card Stayman


 Your choice:
A: J. You usually wouldn’t think twice about throwing your fourth-highest Diamond on the table (or perhaps the Nine from this holding, to pick up dummy’s Ten in certain scenarios), but you have a good inference from the auction. Declarer has shown five Spades, and so won’t have four Hearts on the side, otherwise he would have opened 1. Similarly West can’t have four Hearts, else he would have gone through regular Stayman. However, he has promised three Hearts since he went looking for a 5-3 major suit fit and doesn’t have a Spade fit. Thus partner is marked with four or five Hearts. You only have one side suit entry and your Diamond suit isn’t particularly robust, plus your Spade holding indicates that any finesses declarer takes in the suit will work. You need to go all out and lead the J, hoping to hit partner with a good Heart holding.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 5

  Your Hand
 A J 8 4
 K Q
 10 8 2
 K 10 6 5
Q: 5 - Another 3NT…

*2=good Diamond raise


 Your choice:
A: K. You hold nearly all the defensive strength, so you can’t count on partner to provide anything useful. What’s more, declarer will have a Club stopper for his 2NT bid, so there won’t be much future there. A black suit lead is too likely to trot around to declarer’s stray honor. Since there’s not much hope offensively, you should adopt a passive defense. Leading a Diamond from 10 x x rates to be safe, but it could blow the suit when partner has the Queen and dummy has H J x, so a Heart is best. Even if declarer has the Ace he will probably place you with both honors in the suit for your opening bid, so he won’t finesse twice into you, and you will immediately be setting up a trick. If it turns out later on that you need to attack a black suit, you will probably still have time to do so.

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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