None vulnerable

Leading against three notrump

Play Bridge: Tips and tricks for bridge players new to experienced.

Online Bridge: This hand occurred on Bridge Base Online. Through this site, you may play bridge in the main bridge room or in tournaments.

The bidding: South, with a balanced 17 points, opens one notrump. I tend to open one notrump with 15 to 17 points including length points. This hand qualified. North does not have a five-card major or longer, so he does not transfer. He also does not have a four-card major, so he does not use Stayman. He also puts his hand in the range of 10 to 15 points which is the range one bids game and does not invite to game or look for slam.

The Lead: The five of spades

When the bidding goes directly from one notrump to three notrump, one should stretch to lead a major. The last suit West should pick to lead is a club. West has a six-card club suit, but the suit is far too weak with which to compete and so it is too weak to lead. To lead a weak and long suit, West needs more than one outside entry.

My online partner led his singleton heart. This lead is better than a club, but is not a good lead because he cannot continue the suit when he gets in with the ace of diamonds. If West did not have the ace of diamonds, a heart lead could be best. Partner likely has long hearts and the entries to set them up. Because of the ace of diamonds, West should lead a small spade, the five.

Most people, who play bridge have probably heard of and use the statement: Lead your longest and strongest suit. This statement is false and therefore misleading.

A correct statement is that one should lead from touching strength in a four-card suit or from broken strength in a five-card suit or longer as long as one has outside entries. One can afford to give declarer a trick in order to set up a fourth and fifth card.

One would lead from AQxxx or KJxxx but not AQxx or KJxx. Leading from broken strength in a four-card suit may not even set up a trick, except for declarer.

The play: Declarer needs three stoppers to kick out the ace and king of a suit. With a spade lead, declarer cannot attack diamonds and will only make ten tricks. With a club or a heart lead, declarer has the timing to set up a diamond for the eleventh trick.

Result: 3NT+1 for +430 (spade lead) or 3NT+2 for +460 (spade not led)

Note: All the bridge columns may be viewed at http://watsongallery.ca.

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