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Choice of opening lead

With few clues from the bidding, here is a guide (with marks out of 10) to the attractiveness of various types of lead:

Holding Initial Utility Holding Initial Utility
AK74 10 83 5
3 9 852 4
KQJ6  8 Q952 4
KQ76 7 J4 3
QJ104 7 K752 2
QJ52 6 A1074 0

The king from king-queen is behind just the ace from ace-king and the singleton. If partner holds the ace, your lead has clearly struck gold as the king wins; even if the opponents take the king with their ace, you have made a good start as you have promoted your queen. This deal is a striking example of its power.

South Deals
None Vul
10 9 7
10 5 3
A K 7
A K J 7
Q 4
K Q 8 4
Q 10 5 3 2
10 2
W   E
A 9 7
J 8 6
9 8 6 5 4 3
A K 8 6 5 3 2
J 6 2
9 4
East South West North
  1 1 Pass 2 
Pass 2  Pass 4 
All pass      
  1. Opening Three Spades (weak hand with
    a good seven-card suit) could not be faulted;but if you - dubiously - ascribe two points to the queen of clubs, you do have a Rule of 20 opener [points plus length of two longest suits reaching 20].


What happened
Perhaps confusing notrumps and trumps, West led his fourth highest diamond. Declarer won  K, cashed  AK felling the defensive trumps, then unblocked  Q and over to  A to enjoy  AKJ. Seven trump tricks, four clubs, and two diamonds, meant 13 tricks and game made plus three.

What should have happened
It is a totally different matter on  K lead. This wins Trick One, so, deducing East for  A, West continues with ©4 (not  Q - leading low from three remaining). East wins  A, returns his third heart to West’s  Q, and now comes the Coup de Grace. With little hope in the minors, West tries his fourth heart (key play). East trumps with  J, and now, whether or not declarer overtrumps with  K, the defence must score a trump trick. A perfect “uppercut” - down one.

If you remember one thing...
The power of the king from king-queen lead.

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