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 Tales from Tel-Aviv by Ben Norton

Tales from Tel-Aviv

The Tel-Aviv International Bridge Festival took place in late June, attracting a large attendance, and not only from Israeli players. Try your hand at these five opening lead problems from the swiss teams event. As per usual, you occupy the South seat.

Question 1

  Your Hand
 A Q 3
 K J
 K 10 9 4
 A J 8 7
Q: 1 - A favorable development allows you to wield the red card.


 Your choice:
A: 10. No doubt you fancy your chances of collecting a big number here, and rightly so, but you mustn’t let declarer off the hook with a careless opening lead. East should have some values for his jump to 4 at this vulnerability, so underleading either black-suit Ace carries too much of a risk, even in partner’s suit.

The 10 is your best bet, for it will work out when partner has either the Ace or the Queen, a two-way shot. If not, declarer could still have a singleton Ace.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 2

  Your Hand
 10 6 2
 J 7 4
 J 5
 A 10 9 5 2
Q: 2 - A mundane auction. What’s your poison?


 Your choice:
A: 6. Partner likely has short Clubs, so there’s little purpose in leading that suit, besides, East rates to have some length there. No, it’s between the majors, and since it’s often best to defend passively against 1NT, with the balance of power being relatively even, you should prefer a Spade to a Heart.

Leading from J x x is more dangerous than 10 x x, with little extra offensive potential. It’s not a race against 1NT, so choose the safer option.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 3

  Your Hand
 K J 8 7 3 2
 8 7 5 2
 Q 10 2
Q: 3 - Partner's out for blood. Your lead.


 Your choice:
A: 2. West has implied a Heart suit via his Negative Double, so it’s not attractive to lead one of those. Declarer might be able to get his losers away. An attacking Club is best, hoping to cash some tricks in the suit then wait for partner’s trumps to roll in.

Partner didn’t raise Spades, and he may well be Doubling on the defensive strength of shortness in your suit, in which case a Spade lead would be disastrous.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 4

  Your Hand
 A K 10 6
 J 10 3
 A 6 4 2
 6 5
Q: 4 - What do you think?


 Your choice:
A: J. The obvious alternative of the A will probably do no more than give a tempo away. After all, you hold length beneath the bidder. If your holding were A K x a Spade lead would be much more attractive, since you could hope for partner to have length over dummy. You must strive to keep your side ahead, and if Hearts is to be your source of tricks, as is likely, it’s best to start on them right away.

On the actual deal declarer had six Club tricks and the A K at his disposal. A Spade lead would not have been successful, allowing East to set up his ninth trick there before the defense could establish their fifth.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 5

  Your Hand
 K 10
 10 9 8 3 2
 A K 8 6 3
Q: 5 - End of the Line.

*2 shows Hearts and a minor
*2NT is a puppet to 3 and 3 implies four Spades with no Heart stopper


 Your choice:
A: A. Even though partner has requested a Heart lead, you needn’t oblige. Your Hearts are weak and East is prepared for an attack in that suit. Partner might have as little as Q x x to Double, in which case you must seek nourishment elsewhere. Kick off with the A.

If the sight of dummy and partner's signal provide little encouragement, you may still have enough time to profitably shift to Hearts. Meanwhile, if the conditions are such that you can establish your side five-carder, continue with a small one, hoping partner can gain the lead and fire back a third round. If not, the K might be an entry.

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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