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V’s Notrumps, lead declarer’s likely singleton

We are beginning our series on Defence by emphasising the importance of the auction. Separate the auction and the play, and you will divorce yourself from the potential to improve.

Exercise: Without knowing your hand, study the following two opposing auctions. Which suit would you be most prone to lead, and which least prone?

(A) 1 -1 -2 -end
(B) 1 -1 -2 -3 -3 NT-end

(A) Dummy’s pass of 2  is indicative of a weak hand with one heart and three diamonds. A trump is likely to be the best lead (cutting down dummy’s trumping power), with a heart inconceivable.
(B) Declarer seems ready for the unbid suits, but, given that he has shown six clubs, he may have short hearts (quite likely a singleton). It will depend on your holdings, but a heart lead may well work out best. A club is inconceivable.

South Deals
None Vul
5 3 2
K 8 7 6
K Q 3
Q 6 2
J 9 7
J 5 3
10 7 2
A 7 5 3
W   E
K 10 6 4
A Q 9 4 2
9 6 5 4
A Q 8
A J 8
K J 10 9 8 4
East South West North
  1  Pass 1 
Pass 2  Pass 3 
Pass1 3 NT2 Pass Pass
  1. Might double for take-out.
  2. Well stopped in the unbid suits.
  3. Might double for penalty, requesting the
    lead of dummy’s suit. But, then again, perhaps
    West will lead a heart anyway?...


What happened
West’s  7 (leading high for hate) was fair shot - and better than a spade because East had been in a position to overcall spades at the one-level, not so diamonds. But declarer’s 3 NT bid implied a readiness for diamonds (as well as spades), and it was unsuccessful.
Declarer could win Trick One with  J, force out  A, and even though West switched brightly to  J (to  K and  A), dummy’s  8 could stop the flow of the suit, East scoring just  AQ9. Nine tricks and game made.

What should have happened
Deducing declarer for a likely singleton heart, West leads  3. East wins  Q and carefully returns  4 (to retain communication). Dummy’s  K beats West’s  J, but West leads  5 after winning  A, whereupon East scores  AQ2. Down one.

If you remember one thing...
Is there a suit in which declarer is likely to be singleton? If so, lead it (in notrumps).

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