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 Euphoric Europeans II by Ben Norton

Euphoric Europeans II

Here are five more opening lead problems from the recent European Youth Teams Championships.

The South chair is yours for the taking.

Question 1

  Your Hand
 4 2
 K Q J 7 5 4
 K J 8 6 2
Q: 1 - You might have bid this hand differently, perhaps by jumping to 4 directly over 1, but we took the scientific route with a Michaels cue-bid. What would you lead?

*2 showed hearts and a minor

All Pass

 Your choice:
A: Q. You can often make general plans for the defense when on lead to high-level contracts. Here, you should hope to get partner on lead to give you a Diamond ruff, thus scoring a Heart, a ruff and a slow trick in one of the minors.

There’s no reason to think partner has the A, but given his Heart raise, he may well have the A. What’s more, a Heart lead won’t give away a trick. You therefore choose to reach partner in the Heart suit, and the card to lead to make sure he wins the trick, and doesn’t continue Hearts, is the Q, denying the King.

Alternatively, you could try the J, as a ‘funny’ card, an alarm clock signal asking partner to give you a ruff. Partner will know what to do if he can see the 10 in his hand or dummy.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 2

  Your Hand
 J 9 7
 A K 4
 A J
 K 8 6 3 2
Q: 2 - What do you make of this?

All Pass

 Your choice:
A: A. You can see three tricks and another could come from Spades, Diamonds or even via a Club ruff. Of course, partner could also hold J 10 doubleton or the Q, giving you a third trump trick, but that’s unlikely on the bidding.

It would be unilateral to start with a Club, especially since declarer may be void and a Club ruff can wait if partner’s the one with none of them (unlikely in itself), and a Diamond could just give declarer his game-going trick when he has the unsupported K. A Spade might give declarer a tempo to get his Diamonds away. Give him, say, 2=8=2=1 shape with two losing Diamonds and the three top Spades, but if you had to commit to a line of defense now, a Spade would be your best shot.

However, there’s no need to go all out right away. It’s relatively safe to lead a top Heart first, to see the lay of the land and decide how to continue the defense from a better-informed position.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 3

  Your Hand
 A 9 5 4
 Q 6 5
 A J 10 9
 7 4
Q: 3 - A Precision 2 auction sees you on lead to 3NT. The house doesn’t always win.

*West has shown six Clubs and 13-15 points with no shortness or four-card major. East has merely asked

Pass3NT*All Pass

 Your choice:
A: J. You’re somewhat in the dark here, as you can hardly be guided by partner’s failure to double the artificial 2 bid, holding very little in the way of high cards. However, with the long Club suit in dummy, you should go on the attack, and the suit you have the best chance of establishing is Diamonds.

Yes, a Diamond lead could gift declarer a ninth trick which he wasn’t due. You could wait for partner to get on lead and fire a Diamond through, but you might be waiting a long time and besides, leading Diamonds yourself may be necessary to set up a subsequent finesse against East when he has Q x in dummy opposite his K x x, or perhaps just K Q x in his hand.

A Spade lead is a little safer, since you don’t have a tenace, but also has less going for it offensively, while a Heart lead is a punt.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 4

  Your Hand
 J 9 7
 10 9 7
 5 3 2
 6 5 4 2
Q: 4 - This is a bit guessy as well.

*2 was natural and game-forcing

All Pass

 Your choice:
A: J. With no surprises in store for declarer, you should mount an offensive, and your chances of establishing the Spades are better than in Diamonds, thanks to your relative suit qualities.

Since this is your only time on lead (refer to the Q 10 x hand from the first quiz), you should try to do some damage by leading the J. This will pick up dummy’s K when partner has A Q 10, where leading a low one would allow declarer to duck the trick to partner.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 5

  Your Hand
 A Q J 5
 10 7 5
 Q 8 5 3
 10 4
Q: 5 - You’ve been brushed aside.

*2 showed a good Diamond raise

34All Pass

 Your choice:
A: 5. There are two main plans you could adopt. You might lead a Diamond, intending to take two Diamonds and two Spades, or to simply establish a Diamond trick, before dummy’s Clubs are set up.

Another course is to lead trumps, aiming to protect your good Spades. You’ll be able to play another trump when you win the first Spade, to really cut down dummy’s ruffing potential. West rates to have one or two Spades, after all.

You could even try a Club lead, angling for a ruff yourself, but with no reason to think partner has anything in Clubs, or a high card in trumps to win the first or second round with, that would be a random choice.

As partner may have Club length that prevents the suit setting up, and a Diamond lead really requires the suit to be split 2-2 in the opponents’ hands, your best shot is a trump, to prevent declarer from ruffing too many Spades on table.

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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