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 Mix and Match by Ben Norton

Mix and Match

Another series of five opening lead problems now. You’re South once again.

Question 1

  Your Hand
 Q 10 9
 K 9
 A Q 10 6
 Q 7 4 3
Q: 1 - An unappealing collection to lead from.


 Your choice:
A: 3. Partner can have very little, so it’s no use trying to set up tricks. In fact, a Diamond lead would be very hazardous. Declarer rates to have the K for his jump to the No-trump game, perhaps the Jack as well, so a Diamond would give up a trick. A Heart is equally dangerous. Even if you find partner with the Queen and Jack, declarer could just hold up his Ace for one round and partner wouldn’t get in to cash his winners.

Best to try a passive black-suit lead. A Spade is an option, and you might choose the Queen if you had to lead the suit, to cater for a singleton Jack on your right, but you’d be blowing a trick should declarer hold J x. For this reason, you should prefer a Club. It will rarely give anything away, despite being declarer’s suit, for your Queen will still be guarded even when declarer holds the Ace, King and Jack. Meanwhile, your intermediates aren’t strong enough for you to expect a second Club trick should you not broach the suit.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 2

  Your Hand
 A J 9
 Q J 8 7 6
 Q 10 3
 8 5
Q: 2 - It’s not often the opponents stretch to bid a game when you’re maximum for your raise. What will you lead?


 Your choice:
A: 8. East/West don’t have the values for 3NT, so East must be expecting to run the Club suit, in addition to his red-suit tops. He surely has the K as well, in the face of your side’s bidding. Thus, a Spade lead would be naïve, for it would be likely to gift declarer his ninth trick. Lead passively instead, hoping partner can get in to shift to Spades.

A Diamond is an option, but could give away a trick in silly fashion. Try a Club. Partner probably has a red-suit Ace to get on lead with, but you don’t need to guess which one.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 3

  Your Hand
 Q J 9 8 4 2
 K 6
 Q 6 4 3
Q: 3 - What are your thoughts?


 Your choice:
A: 3. East/West must be short of Spades, so you can’t expect many of them to stand up. What’s more, your K is poorly placed beneath dummy’s Hearts. You need to establish some tricks, and the Diamond suit is the most likely source.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 4

  Your Hand
 A K 8 5 3
 A 8 3 2
 Q 8 5
Q: 4 - Not ideal. You don’t really know what partner has after this auction.


 Your choice:
A: 5. What you do know is that partner has some values to justify his Double. Your side has the balance of power and you likely have the side-suits sewn up. Therefore, declarer will probably be looking to take some ruffs in the dummy. Cut down on these by kicking off with a trump. Should your side need to cash some tricks quickly, you can expect to do so later on, with your two Aces.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 5

  Your Hand
 A Q 10 8
 5 2
 8 7
 K 6 5 4 3
Q: 5 - What do you make of this?

*1NT is semi-forcing, and could contain a three-card limit raise in Hearts


 Your choice:
A: 8. You can assume that West has the limit raise option. Thus, they have nine trumps between them. However, both have limited their hands, so declarer might struggle if left to his own devices. A Spade lead would be suicidal and there’s little offensive power to a Club lead, thanks to your unprecedented length there, while it could easily present declarer with his game-going trick.

If you wanted to be completely safe you’d lead a trump, but a Diamond probably won’t give anything away either, while having the added benefit of perhaps enabling your side to take a ruff.

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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