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 Revealing Auctions by Ben Norton

Revealing Auctions

For those who listen to the opponent’s bidding, there can be many extra inferences to be drawn which may help with the opening lead. Both what your enemies have and haven’t done in the auction can point the way, thus it’s worth your time to tune into the right frequency and listen to what your opponents are telling each other about their hands. As South on these five problems keep the bidding in mind when choosing your lead.

Question 1

  Your Hand
 7 6 4
 Q 8 7 6 5
 A Q 4 3
Q: 1 - What will you lead against 5?

*3=splinter, showing Spade shortness and Diamond support


 Your choice:
A: 6. It may seem strange to lead a suit bid by the opponents when they’re in a suit contract, but here you can plan a route to three tricks if partner has the right card. East bid 3NT despite knowing his partner has a singleton or void in Spades, so his Spade holding must be very strong. You’re holding nothing but low cards in the suit, so any finesses will be working and there’s a big chance, given that dummy is going to have a lot of red cards, that declarer will be able to get dummy’s Club losers away on the Spades.

This might indicate a Club lead, but you’d need partner to have the King for that to work, and you could just be giving declarer a cheap trick when he holds that card. Your best shot is a Heart, hoping to get partner on lead with the A so he can shift to a Club through declarer’s hoped-for King.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 2

  Your Hand
 10 8 5 3 2
 A 10
 J 7
 10 7 6 2
Q: 2 - Another 5



 Your choice:
A: 7. Your opponents looked set to bid a slam after their trip on the cue-bidding roundabout, but they stopped short in the end. Why is that? By going past 5 East has denied a Club control, and given West’s Pass it looks like he’s worried about that suit too. Lead a Club. Partner may well have a tenace over dummy’s King, or he could have both top honors himself.

To make things easier for partner, lead your second-highest card to deny an honor. Then if he has a holding like A J x x he won’t try and finesse against dummy’s King with the Jack, which could be fatal if declarer has a discard coming. This was actually from the same hand as question one. It was played in a match and two East/Wests played in 5, from different hands. The game was let through when problem 1) was posed, but beaten on 2).

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 3

  Your Hand
 K 6 3
 9 7 6
 9 8 6 5
 Q 9 2
Q: 3 - What do you think?

*2= Stayman


 Your choice:
A: 3. The auction has told you that East doesn’t have length in either major, and so rates to have the minors. Therefore a Club lead isn’t attractive, but a Diamond is plausible from low cards. It’s best to lead a major though. Partner will most likely have length in one of them, but which one? A Heart is a more passive choice. That won’t give anything away but needs a lot from partner to have an effect offensively. Alternatively, a Spade from K x x is more dangerous, in that it could blow a trick, but it needs much less from partner for it to set the suit up.

There is one more clue to be drawn from the auction, which will help you decide what to do. West leapt to game rather than inviting. He could have a minimum nine or ten-count, but he could have a fair bit more. In that case your opponents will certainly have the power to make their contract, and you must lead aggressively to set up tricks. Therefore a Spade is your best shot.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 4

  Your Hand
 K 6 5 3
 6 5
 A J 10 9 6 5
Q: 4 - What about this 4?


 Your choice:
A: A. Judging from the auction there’s a strong possibility that your opponents, lacking the strength in Clubs to play in 3NT, are playing in a 4-3 (Moysian) Spade fit. These contracts are usually a battle for trump control. Holding K x x x it would be a shame to relinquish your trump control by searching for a ruff. If partner has the A the ruff can wait until later, and if he lacks the A but has a Club entry, a trump, a Club and a ruff will only be three tricks anyway, not enough to beat the game.

Your best chance is to force declarer to ruff Clubs in his hand, with the long trump holding, thus promoting your fourth Spade. You plan to keep chipping away at Clubs every time you get in. That may well keep you a tempo ahead.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 5

  Your Hand
 J 6 3
 9 8 4
 A J 9
 A Q 8 6
Q: 5 - What will you try this time?


 Your choice:
A: 8. In contrast to hand three, this time your opponents have had an invitational sequence. Therefore they barely have the power needed to make game and this will be a touch-and-go affair. With this in mind your main aim should be to not give anything away. If you leave declarer to his own devices, bearing in mind the Clubs are badly placed for him, he will probably go down. Leading either minor will blow a trick too often, as will a Spade from J x x. Leading from x x x won’t give declarer anything he couldn’t take for himself, and is a good passive choice.

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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