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When to look elsewhere

If partner has bid a suit, would you ever consider NOT leading it? All things being equal, you would lead partner’s suit: at least you retain partnership harmony. However there are times where this is clearly the wrong strategy.

North Deals
N-S Vul
K 9 7
6 2
K Q J 7 6 5
Q 4
Q 10 8 4 2
7 4
A 4 2
A 7 5
W   E
J 3
K Q 10 8 3
9 8
8 6 3 2
A 6 5
A J 9 5
10 3
K J 10 9
West North East South
  1  1 1 3 NT2
All pass      
  1. There are those who might baulk at this light overcall, but I can tell you that such lead-directing bids are winning Bridge.
  2. Hearts well stopped, and no other concerns.


What happened
West looked no further than partner’s hearts when selecting his opening lead to 3 NT.  7 went to East’s  Q. Declarer won  A and led  10, winning the trick when West ducked. Dummy’s  J won the second diamond, West ducking again, but his  A took the third, as East threw  2 and declarer  5. East’s play of  Q at Trick One told West that declarer held  J, so West switched to  4 (best - but too late). Declarer rose with dummy’s  K, cashed the three promoted diamonds, then forced out  A. All the defence scored was  A,  A and  K. Game made plus one.

What should have happened
After he heard South jump to 3 NT, West should have made the following deductions.

  1. South had partner’s hearts well stopped. He may not have been so well held in unbid suits.
  2. Partner had made a light overcall, and so had few if any entries outside his suit.

Therefore it was most unlikely that partner’s hearts could be set up. West should have led a spade, the “sneak attack”. On  4 lead, declarer cannot make 3 NT. Best technique is to play  7 from dummy and let East’s  J win the trick. By winning the second spade and exhausting East of the suit, he will still survive if East has a minor-suit ace (with no more spades to lead).

Not here. Winning Trick Two with  A and leading  10, declarer sees West win  A and lead a third spade. He wins  K and cashes diamonds, but as soon as he leads a club, West wins  A and cashes two long spades. Down one.

If you remember one thing...
Don’t lead partner’s suit if declarer seems ready for it or (notrumps) if your hand has more entries.

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