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 Golden Gun by Ben Norton

Golden Gun

The Gold Cup is Britain’s premier knockout teams event, contested by many top players (Zia won it last year).

Here are five opening lead problems from a recent third round match. Match your skills against the experts and see if you can find the killing lead.

Question 1

  Your Hand
 J 5 2
 Q 9 7 6
 8 6 3
 J 5 3
Q: 1 - Well, partner has bid and rebid his suit. There shouldn’t be a problem here.

All pass

 Your choice:
A: 6. Partner has at least six Diamonds, so it’s unlikely that two rounds of his suit will stand up. This is likely to be your last time on lead and you should make the most of it by attacking the unbid suit. You hope to pierce dummy’s Heart tenace, establishing a trick for partner.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 2

  Your Hand
 K 6 5
 Q 6 5 4
 10 9 8 7 6
Q: 2 - What do you make of this?

Pass4All pass

 Your choice:
A: 5. When declarer has pre-empted, it often pays to lead aggressively because he rarely has strength outside his long suit and leading away from side-suit honors is therefore less dangerous.

The 10 appears a safe choice, but could just give declarer a tempo or allow him to discard some losers. A Diamond rates to do more damage, but leading from a Queen requires more from partner for it to be right than leading from a King does. Also, your extra length in Diamonds makes it less likely that any established winners will stand up. A Heart is the brave choice.

Had the auction gone 1-4, declarer promising some high cards, a Diamond lead would be better. Leading away from Kings is very dangerous in general.

On the actual deal, either red suit lead would have resulted in a two-trick set, while a Club lead let the game through. Dummy had A K x opposite declarer’s void.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 3

  Your Hand
 J 10 3
 Q 10 9 5
 A 10 9 4 3
Q: 3 - They’ve turned up the heat.

*2 was a strong jump shift, forcing to game with strong Spades

All pass

 Your choice:
A: 10. It would be pointless to lead your singleton as you have an Ace. If partner has the A, the slam is going down anyway. You could lay down the A, hoping to give partner a second round ruff, but with such long Spades on your right, that seems a distant hope.

Your best chance is to establish a Heart trick for you to cash when you get in with the A. After all, declarer will probably need to make something of dummy’s Diamonds. Lead the 10, hoping partner has the King.

A Heart lead was needed to beat this. Declarer had shape with the singleton K opposite dummy’s Q J. A Heart lead put the defense a step ahead.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 4

  Your Hand
 8 6 5 3 2
 K 8
 8 7 4
 10 6 2
Q: 4 - Another slam. Time to make a plan.

*3 promised five cards in each major

All pass

 Your choice:
A: 2. Your chances of setting up and cashing a trick in one of the minors are small seeing as declarer is short in those suits. You should pave the way to give partner a Spade ruff instead.

Partner has at most one Spade (West must have two for his No-trump opening). Thus, if the A is on your right, you’ll be able to score the K and give partner a ruff when he has three trumps. Even if the A is in dummy, you might succeed by way of a little trickery.

Declarer doesn’t know you have the long Spades. By kicking off with the 2, you make it look as though you have the singleton Spade. Declarer may then spurn the winning trump finesse and after taking your K, you’ll be able to deliver a Spade ruff to defeat a bewildered declarer.

This lead was found by fellow Vu-Bridge writer Paul Bowyer and declarer did reject the Heart finesse, but when Paul won the K and played a Spade, yours truly didn’t have the wit to ruff it. Yes, declarer had six trumps!

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 5

  Your Hand
 Q 9
 J 10 8 6 2
 K 9 2
 8 5 2
Q: 5 - Which one?

All pass

 Your choice:
A: 2. Partner wouldn’t have bothered to introduce his Club suit without good reason. He probably has five cards in each black suit, in which case you have better chances of setting up the Clubs. Lead the 2 to give partner a count in his suit. A lot of partnerships have the understanding that they change to third-and-fifth leads in suits that partner has shown.

This time, leading the Q would have worked out better, causing declarer to take a safety play and wind up with ten tricks. A Club lead gave him no problems and twelve were made. Award yourself two IMPs for the Q, then, in compensation for the 20% lost in the quiz.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Overall Results

Your results:   out of    Average: 

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