A lot rides on this…continued.

September 23, 2009 at 7:30 am 10 comments

The question is this.

Sitting West you pick up:


Pass…..4NT…..5C……..Pass (one keycard)
6C……..6S…….Dble…..All Pass

What do you lead?

To set the scene. As Khokan so correctly points out, it is the round of 16 in the NOT. In 2002, to be precise. At my table, East didn’t bid over 4NT and West began with the wrong red suit, even though the auction surely demanded the ace of clubs. Plus 980.

At the other table, the auction above ensued and the opening leader guessed the wrong red suit…thirteen tricks, doubled to boot. This cost us the round of eight and it reversed the result of at least one other match. Ouch.

It can all be so nicely reasoned, however, as you can see from yesterday’s comments. Ace of clubs should be standing up and then you won’t have to guess at all. If you didn’t think of the ace of clubs, then it makes far more sense to try the weak red suit as the stronger one is more likely to be a trick. Perhaps also because it is more likely that the opponents are bidding on with a good suit.

Indeed, this is the layout:









See you tomorrow.


Entry filed under: defence.

A lot rides on this. Angel of mercy

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jill  |  September 25, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    pd has stuck his neck out twice in the auction, and one has to respect that by not leading the ace of clubs
    and making the best possible deduction of pd’s void. id
    lead a small heart with the small pip asking for a club return. i would not allow inferences from the opponents’ auction to take priority over partner’s actions. once you do that, the partnership crumbles. and often, though not in this case, the opponents’ auctions are off the planet anyhow.
    if not leading the A of clubs is wrong, so be it. its only one hand, but maintaining partnership trust is a more vital long term imperative

    • 2. cathychua  |  September 25, 2009 at 4:30 pm

      I think this is absolutely wrong. Your first task is to do the right thing on the hand. Blindly following rules and principles and conventions is no substitute for using your head to come up with the right specific answer on the right specific hand. This is quite clearly, in this case, not to make a blind guess, but to begin with the card that lets you decide next…Partner did (a) because he thought it would be the best thing for your side. You know it is right to do (b). So do it.

      • 3. jill  |  September 25, 2009 at 4:59 pm

        i agree with you providing that you know leading the A of clubs is right and that it will in fact stand up. not sure this is 100% clearcut. ure right that with the red suits u are taking a guess — not a completely blind guess but still a guess. still, leading the ace of clubs could be a guess too, fingers crossed that it will hold. im not speaking of blindly adhering to rules– ( eg my pd will never underlead a king and wishes i never would, but i still do when i think it is right.) rather, i was saying, barring evidence to the contrary, id trust the communication of the partnership over that of the opposition.

  • 4. Chris Mulley  |  September 23, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    I was torn between AC (for reasons provided by others) and a heart. The auction looks like LHO has a trick source (almost certainly hearts). I was worried that RHO might have a club void – can people show 1KC + a useful void?

    With a bit more reflection, though, if AC is not standing up and they do have a trick source, am a really getting a diamond to go with the heart ruff if I try a heart?

    • 5. cathychua  |  September 23, 2009 at 4:00 pm

      If RHO has a void, LHO probably has a couple of clubs and therefore won’t be blackwooding.

      • 6. Chris Mulley  |  September 24, 2009 at 9:23 am

        I’m obviously getting old. I thought there was a possibility that partner had 8 clubs for the 5C bid.

    • 7. phil markey  |  September 24, 2009 at 2:37 pm

      “I was torn between AC (for reasons provided by others) and a heart”

      i think there is a faith issue to consider – pards double says he has something special to beat the contract – your first obligation is to therefore decide what pard has that is special and then work from that point – not to come up with a compromise based on any uncertainty

      so you can be unsure about what to lead but it should read thus; “pard has a heart void but maybe i should lead the ace of clubs anyway”

      its clear looking at your hand that the double is likely a heart void – it may not be but that is not something you need to cater for – in practice once you know pard has a heart void then a small heart is always the right lead

  • 8. khokan  |  September 23, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Incidentally, at our table, the opening bid was 4S by Seamus, not 1S. This doesn’t really affect the issue, though.

  • 9. khokan  |  September 23, 2009 at 10:29 am

    As shown by the comments, the CA lead seems a much safer choice than a heart. Is it so obvious for east to return a club on ruffing the heart? For example, the heart spot card may be hard to read.

    There was a tricky problem when I played against Cathy in the SNOT:

    N E S W
    5D X P 6D
    P 6S P P
    X P P P

    You hold:


    What do you lead, and why?

  • 10. phil markey  |  September 23, 2009 at 10:07 am

    a diamond is awful

    i saw this problem yesterday and figured a heart was so boringly obvious i wouldnt bother responding


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