Bridge Notes | When you are freed from the lead’s need

MANY pairs have lead agreements, especially on the first lead, and to suddenly choose to deviate from them is more likely to confuse partner than declarer.

This is a time that doing so can be most successful and satisfying.

You are on lead against a slam, and you have one certain (?!) trick, and four trumps, especially if headed by the ten or jack. You are not expecting your partner to have anything to contribute to the defence, so it doesn’t matter if you confuse him.

The plan is to trick the declarer into thinking that, if anything, either the trumps are evenly divided, or, if not, that you are the one who is short. The bidding with no interference has gone:

SOUTH           NORTH

1D                    1H

1S                        2C   [Forcing to game, not necessarily clubs]

3NT                    4S

4NT [RKCB] 5S  [2 key cards and the QS ]


You are West with these cards: S J643, H 982, D A1052, C 95.

Let us look at the possible leads.

Among experienced players, the lead of an unsupported ace against a slam usually suggests that you have hopes for a trick elsewhere, and as it is definitely not a good idea to underlead an ace in this situation, diamonds are out.

If you lead the nine of hearts, you are likely to have a doubleton or be short in that suit, so possibly have long trumps, and you sure as hell are not going to lead a trump. So clubs it is, but which one? 

As in the heart suit, the lead of the nine would suggest shortage, so you create an impression of length in that suit by leading the five.

You are pretty sure on the bidding that your partner has length in clubs, and hopefully an honour or two to further confuse declarer. As both declarer and partner have bid spades, you also hope there are four in each of their hands.

Even if declarer guesses correctly, you have done your best.

From the past

ROSEMARY has been writing little profiles of some club members, so I thought I would give an odd amusing insight into one or two famous players from the past.

Keith McNeill was a pharmacist from Adelaide who ran the Bidding Quiz for many years in Australian Bridge magazine (still a feature in the publication).

He invited experts from all over the world to participate, but they all, no matter what they usually played, had to use the Standard American System in their answers.

This system, with any improvements, was printed on the back cover from time to time.

His comments on their answers were both witty and occasionally scathing. Once, when one contestant sent in a second set of answers, having forgotten he had already sent one, Keith had great fun as, predictably, there were variations in the two sets.

For some time afterwards, he would switch a couple of the letters in their name, and make up other answers with amusing commentary, and place them next to the real ones.

He had an obstreperous partner and if Keith made a silly mistake, the partner would get revenge by putting Keith in a ridiculous costly contract, especially if they were playing for money.

Keith also wrote his own obituary for the magazine as he said that the only person who could do him justice had the temerity to die first. This was updated periodically, as he lived longer than he expected.

Party time

THE Christmas party is this Saturday and the club has spared no expense to ensure an enjoyable time and culinary experience for both bridge and mah-jong players.

Don’t forget to be kind to your partners.