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The attacking short suit lead

I was asked the other day whether a lead from Qxxx or Qxxxx was preferable (Trick One, trump contract). It was not an easy question to answer, because much depends on whether or not you think you need to attack (take tricks quickly, typically before declarer throws losers on a long suit in dummy). The lead from Qxxx is the more attacking, gaining more when partner has the right holding, but losing more when he has the wrong one. This is because declarer rates to have greater length. Take:

(A)(i)        Dummy
West           985       East
 Q642                        KJ7
                 Declarer
                  ♦ A103
and

(A)(ii)      Dummy
West          985        East
 Q6432                      KJ7
                Declarer
                 ♦ A10

Finding partner with a near perfect holding sees you set up two tricks in A(i) but just one in A(ii). However say partner has a poor holding. Take:

(B)(i)       Dummy
West          KJ7          East
 Q642                         985
                Declarer
                 ♠ A103
and

(B)(ii)      Dummy
West          KJ7         East
 Q6432                      985
                Declarer
                  ♠ A10

In B(i) declarer has a potential third-round loser before you led the suit. In B(ii) he does not (you have given him a third trick in the suit via a free finesse, but the discard may not do him any good).

North Deals
None Vul
Q J 7 4
4 2
A K Q 9 6 2
8
A 3
Q 8 6 3
8 4
Q 9 6 4 2
 
N
W   E
S
 
10 6
K J 10 7
10 5 3
K J 10 7
 
K 9 8 5 2
A 9 5
J 7
A 5 3
West North East South
  1  Pass 1 
Pass 4 1 Pass 6 2
All pass      
  1. Buoyed by the fabulous shape and honour-
    structure.
  2. Reasonable, with three huge cards ( K,
     A, and  A) and a fifth trump.

 

What happened
On  4 lead, declarer won  A, knocked out  A, won  3 switch, drew trumps, and ran diamonds. 12 tricks and slam made.

What should have happened
On  3 lead, declarer beats  K with  A, but when he leads a trump (as he must), West grabs  A and cashes  Q. Down one.

If you remember one thing...
Leading from a shorter suit is more attacking (vs a trump contract) than from a longer one.

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