Lead a passive
against 1NT instead of
a broken four-card suit
CONTRACTS of 1NT are just as impor-
tant as any other (the same number of E/W Game. Dealer South.
match-points are available on each and ´ K84 often more – as on the deal) with little
every deal). Indeed, because that is the ™ 984 payback.
contract you will be declaring or defending t A73 Let anyone who leads a heart, hoping to
at least as often as any other, mastering the ® Q852 find partner at home, play against me for
tactics will be highly instrumental to your ´ AQ76 ´ 10 5 3 large stakes for a long time. Such aggres-
success as a pairs player. ™ Q7 W E
™ J 10 5 3 sive leads are heavy long-term losers. Say
A 1NT contract is not a sprint. It is a t 854 S t Q 10 9 6 no more.
long haul. The key is to stay in the game, ® KJ74 ® A9 Clubs is another strong but broken
and try to control the latter stages. Because ´ J92 four-card suit that is best avoided. Here
you will typically have a second (and ™ AK62 partner has the ace, yet a club lead gives
third?) chance to find the right defensive t KJ2 declarer two tricks (®4, ®2, ®A, ®3; later
attack, you do not need to take risks on ® 10 6 3 ®10 led through West, pinning East’s ®9].
lead at trick one before you have a sight of Left to his own devices, declarer is likely to
dummy. make no club tricks.
Watching (at ninety degrees to) the West North East South So lead a diamond. Yes, this gives declar-
Poles and other top bridge-playing nations, 1NT er a third diamond trick with his jack. But
you see the lead-style versus 1NT that has All Pass it is a finesse he could always take for
been prevalent for years. They’ll lead from himself – you have given him nothing. On
three small cards – giving nothing away – Let’s analyse the four leads for West. First, a diamond lead – around to the jack,
in preference to strong, broken four-card spades. They say of A-Q-x-x-x (that’s five declarer is likely to lead ace-king and a
suits such as A-Q-6-2, K-J-8-4 etc. These cards) that it’s the best lead versus no- third heart*, hoping for a 3-3 split. He will
latter leads give away cheap tricks so often, trumps: give one trick up and the suit will be disappointed and although he will
requiring partner to have a filling high- often run. A-Q-x-x (four cards) is an score the king of spades later, he will
card, and, as I say, defending 1NT you entirely different proposition: the worst probably go down one. On any other lead,
normally have time to switch. (they say). You give up a cheap trick (and I’m betting declarer will score eight tricks.
A final point: make that diamond lead
be the eight – a clear ‘high-for-hate’ lead.
Don’t lead a murky ‘MUD’ five. (The
reason for leading second-top from small
cards is so that you can follow higher next
time, eliminating the possibility of a
doubleton and a ruff. Ruffing is not a
factor in no-trumps.) r
IN the 10th European Youth Pairs Championships held in Opatja, Croatia, in July, the
best performance by an English pair was that of Tommy Brass and Alex Roberts, who
*Study the heart pips. How about declarer
came seventh in the Youngsters A Final.
starting with a small heart, to the seven, eight
In the Junior series, only Ben Paske and Graeme Robertson qualified for the A Final,
and ten? On regaining the lead, he cashes the
where they finished 22nd. In the B Final, the highest-placed English pair were David
ace, felling West’s queen (unblocking dummy’s
Faria – James Paul who came 18th.
nine). He can now finesse against East’s ™J-5,
In the Girls series, neither of our pairs qualified for the final.
holding ™K-6 over him, so scoring a third
www.ebu.co.uk October 2010 English Bridge 5