This wonderful game can be played by all

  • Dealer South E/W Vulnerable
  • Figure 2: West’s jump to 2NT showed exactly 19-21 HCP

There is a new game added to the Bermuda Bridge Club roster with the Thursday after-school youth game now added as a regular fixture at the club.

There are usually about 12-16 experienced students from all the schools that play in the pairs game, and the last two sessions have been attended by three new youngsters learning bridge this year.

The organisers hope that they can expand on the new students, and move them into the rest of the group over time.

Thanks must go out to the untiring group of volunteers for keeping the school programmes going, and for their encouragement of the students as they try and get to grips with this difficult but fascinating game.

The Opening Lead is one area of bridge that doesn’t get enough attention, either by players or by teachers, and part of the reason is that so much depends on the bidding, which may lead to different leads from the same hand, so it is hard to teach.

The opening leader has to try and figure out the opponents hands and draw on the memory banks to reach the right conclusion, and the lead could well be the single factor in defeating a contract or letting it make.

Having said all that, there are certain rules which, if followed, will not only produce good results over the long term, but will also reduce the stress when on opening lead. So let’s start with a few of the more obvious ones.

If partner bids a suit — lead it unless you know another lead is better — not if you think it is better, but if you know it is.

Agree with partner what your leads are in this situation; when leading partners’ suit I tend to lead “count” — up the line with an odd number and down the line with an even number.

Partner can usually work out declarers holding once she sees your lead and the dummy, along with deductions from the bidding.

Agree with partner what your opening leads mean. A good start is to play that the lead of a low card usually shows an honour in that suit, lead high low with a doubleton and lead MUD with three small (Middle, Up, Down to the next plays in that suit).

I love trump leads, but only when there is a good reason for them, not because I don’t know what else to do!

The opposition usually plays in trumps because they want to do some ruffing and quite often an opening trump lead has the defence one step ahead of declarer.

Also, trumps are usually where the opposition has most of their strength so trump leads rarely give a trick away.

I would, however, avoid leading away from a suit headed by the 10 or Jack as those often cost a trick.

If you have the AK of a suit it usually pays to start with that suit at trick one to get a look at dummy — if you have AKxx lead the Ace first — if you lead the K and then the Ace it should show a doubleton.

Leading fourth best of your longest suit against no trump usually works best and tells partner a lot.

So if you lead the two of a suit, partner immediately knows you started with a four-card suit — if you, for instance, lead the 5 and next play the 2, you clearly started with a five card or longer suit.

If the opponents sacrifice against you with weak hands and distribution, lead a trump nearly every time before leading any high cards — and keep leading them when you get in.

There is a ton more to this subject, but if you just start with the above you will be on your way to better results.

This week’s hand is about a lot of things — an opening lead, fourth best leads, third hand high and … thinking things through!

Granted, it is not an easy one, but then bridge is not often an easy game

See Figure 1 & 2

If he had 15-18 he would have opened 1NT and if he had 20-22 he would have opened 2NT so the bid could only have that meaning. West had 6 points and a good Diamond suit so the raise to 3NT was automatic.

The hand was played 12 times and at 11 tables declarer made 3NT after North led the Heart 2.

The opening lead was interesting as North had a choice between Hearts and Clubs — in these cases, it usually pays to lead the major as East had not employed Stayman so was more likely to hold the minor suits than the major suits.

The opening lead went to the 4, Queen and King and in the end declarer lost two Hearts and two Diamonds to make nine tricks.

So what happened at the 12th table? Here North also led the Heart 2, but when declarer played low from dummy, South did some thinking — assuming partner held four cards to an honour (the lead of the 2 as fourth best guarantees four cards only) then declarer held a doubleton which was either Ax, Kx, or xx.

If it was either of the first two, South playing the Queen guaranteed declarer another Heart trick with the Jack in dummy. If declarer had xx, clearly playing the Queen was correct.

Based on the bidding South decided that Declarer had either Ax or Kx and knew that if it was Kx the defence had hope — if it was Ax the defence had no chance anyway.

So at trick one, instead of playing the usual third hand high with the Queen, South played the 6! Look what happens now — when South gets in with the Diamond, he leads a low Heart, the King falls to the Ace and the defence takes three Heart tricks to go with their two Diamond tricks and the contract is defeated — brilliant thinking by South and well rewarded.