February 2020 English Bridge
´ A 9 8 5
™ 6 5 4
t 8 4 3
® 9 7 6
W N E S
Pass 3™ Pass 3´1
Pass 4t2 Pass 4NT3
Pass 5t Pass 6™
1 showing a spade control with
slam interest, 2 showing a diamond control, 3
If partner has the ™K, over dummy's ™A, a heart
lead would be best, but needing partner to have a
queen, rather than a king, is better odds.
It isn't a bad rule, leading passively against 6NT
and leading aggressively against six of a suit. But it
really does depend on the auction, and some
auctions can be quite revealing. One common way
of bidding to slam is with cue bidding. The idea is
that after agreeing a suit, bidding a new suit shows a
control (an ace or king or singleton or void) and
shows slam interest. This is a good method as it
allows the partnership to find out if one of their
suits is wide open before they reach the five level.
But knowing who has what control can be quite
helpful. Consider this problem:
So what's the plan? Like the last problem, we
already have one trick, so we should aim to establish
another. But in which suit?
A spade lead would be foolish. Declarer showed a
spade control with his cue bid. It isn't the ace, so it's
probably the king. Leading a spade into declarer's
king could very well give the entire slam away, and
even if he has a shortage, there isn't an urgent need
to lead spades.
Leading a diamond also doesn't look great.
Dummy showed a diamond control with his cue
bid, so it's unlikely that partner has a good card. I
guess that leaves us with a club.
But wait. Dummy could have bid 4® over 3´, but
he didn't. That means he doesn't have a club
control. If that's the case, declarer would never bid
to slam unless he had a club control. Declarer's
Blackwood bid shows a club control by inference.
So how does this help us? If the opponent's have
all the controls, isn't it just a guess? Not quite. Think
about where the controls are.
If partner has the ®K, it is quite possible that
declarer has ®AQ and a club lead won't help. But if
partner has the tK, a diamond lead will always help
because dummy will have the tA. A lead through
dummy's strength will establish the king, ready for
us to cash once we get in with our ´A. It isn't a sure
thing, but it's the best chance of beating the
Have you got it? Try Stephen's quiz online
page 68 when you've finished the article