Page 0044


Leading an ace

against no-trumps

diamonds is undoubtedly our strongest against a no-trump contract, normally

suit. Maybe partner has diamond length. shows a suit like A-K-x or maybe longer. It

And if partner has long diamonds headed asks you to encourage by playing a high

Sandra Landy by the queen, we might be able to take the card if you hold the queen. You should

first five tricks in diamonds. It may be an also encourage with any six-card holding.

optimistic thought, but have you got a Here East has an easy decision and should

better idea? So you decide to lead dia- play the nine of diamonds

ALMOST all leads to no-trump contracts monds, but should it be the ace or king? Would you consider leading your ace

carry a message. It’s up to partner to In Standard English the king is a strong from either of the hands below? On both

remember what the message is and react lead, showing a good suit headed by at deals South opened 1NT, North replied

in an appropriate way. Particularly so is least three honours, so the lead from a with a Stayman 2®, South bid 2´ and

the lead of an ace or king, because it is a holding such as A-K-4 should be the ace! North bid 2NT which South raised to

lead that we rarely make and which re- The lead of an ace normally, but not 3NT.

quires partner to give a specific signal. always, shows the king and asks partner to

With both the ace and king heading the give an encouraging signal if he has a good

suit you decide to lead, does it matter holding in the suit. This is done by playing Hand 1 Hand 2

which one you decide to play? Yes it does, as high a card as can be spared. Good ´ Q532 ´ K2

but only if you have agreed with your holdings are ones headed by the queen, or ™ QJ3 ™ AK3

partner what the leads mean. If you have the jack if the queen is doubleton in t 643 t Q 10 5

never discussed it, you can’t blame partner dummy – or any six-card suit is good as ® AK7 ® 86543

if he misreads your lead. the queen is likely to drop doubleton from

In Standard English the lead of an ace declarer’s hand.

normally shows that you have the king as Partner should discourage by playing a On Hand 1 North hasn’t actually bid

well and asks partner if they like your lead. small card with a poor holding. Here is the hearts, but has implied holding four

For example, as West you hold: full deal: hearts by using Stayman. The bidding

suggests that North has 11, or maybe 12,

´ J872 South, the dealer, open- points and that South has 14 or a good

™ J962 ed 1™, you passed, and Love All. Dealer South. 13 points. So North-South probably have

t AK4 North responded 2®. ´ K 10 9 6 almost exactly a combined 25 points. You

® 75 Your partner passed and ™ Q7 have 12, so that leaves just 3 points for

South rebid 2NT show- t J3 partner. South has shown spades and

ing 15-16 points. North ® AK642 North has implied hearts, making either

now bid 3´, over which South bid 3NT. ´ J872 ´ 54 major-suit lead unattractive. It may be a


How should you be thinking when you ™ J962 W E

™ 543 disaster but leading the ace of clubs

decide what to lead? t AK4 S t Q9762 looks the best lead to me.

South’s bid showed 15-16 points and as ® 75 ® 10 9 3 Did you choose the heart ace on Hand

North made a responder’s reverse it’s ´ AQ3 2? It is very unlikely to be the winning

likely that North has at least 13 points, ™ A K 10 8 lead. If North has four hearts – and

giving North-South at least a combined 28 t 10 8 5 declarer must have at least two hearts –

points. You have nine points, so at best ® QJ8 partner cannot have five hearts headed by

partner has three points, quite possibly the queen. Lead a club and hope that your

even fewer. high cards in the other suits provide

We normally lead a four card or longer West North East South enough entries to allow you to continue

suit against 3NT hoping to set up winners 1™ leading clubs and eventually establish club

in our long suit, so on many auctions your Pass 2® Pass 2NT winners.

choice would be the two of spades or the Pass 3´ Pass 3NT Next time I will look at what it means to

two of hearts. But here both suits have All Pass lead a king against opponents’ no-trump

been bid by the opposition, making them contract. Before that article appears why

unattractive leads and quite likely to cost West leads the ace of diamonds. What card not discuss ace and king leads with your

your side a trick. should East play? partner, to check you are on the same

While we don’t have four diamonds, Remember: partner’s lead of an ace wavelength. r

44 English Bridge December 2010


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