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Lead towards an Honour

Possibly the single most common mistake in the whole of Bridge - let alone in Finessing - is actually to lead the card you are trying to promote. Take:

 

(a) North
A 3 2
 
West
?K?
  East
?K?
  South
Q 5 4
 

 or

(b) North
A K 3 2
 
West
?Q?
  East
?Q?
  South
J 5
 

In neither case is there any point in leading the (underlined) honour you are trying to promote. Leading the queen in (a), or the jack in (b), can never result in the card being promoted. For whichever opponent holds the missing higher card will simply cover.

Consider what happens in (a) if West holds the king, and covers the queen with the king. Do not feel good when you beat the king with North’s ace, for this is what remains:

North
3 2
 
South
5 4           !!

Instead you must lead from the opposite hand to the card you are trying to promote: the two from the North hand in either case. You are hoping that it is East, playing before your (a) queen / (b) jack, who holds the missing higher card.

South Deals
Both Vul
Q 10 5 3
A 8 6
A 7 5
6 3 2
9 6 2
J 9 3
J 9 6 2
K Q J
 
N
W   E
S
 
8
Q 10 5 2
K 10 8 3
10 9 5 4
 
A K J 7 4
K 7 4
Q 4
A 8 7
West North East South
      1 
Pass 3  Pass 4 
Pass Pass Pass  

What happened
West led  K vs the 4  game. Winning  A, declarer drew trumps in three rounds finishing in hand, then led  Q. Oops.
If West held  K, he would simply cover; in fact  Q ran to East’s  K, and the defence cashed two clubs and waited for a third-round heart trick. Down one.
What should have happened
To promote  Q, you must lead from the opposite hand. Draw trumps finishing in dummy, then lead  5. East can rise with  K, and lead to West’s  QJ. However you win (say)  3 with  K, cash ¨ Q, cross to  A, then cash ¨ A discarding  7. 10 tricks and game made.
If you remember just one thing...
Do not lead the honour you are trying to promote; lead from the opposite hand.

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