The ob­vi­ous lead might not work

Cecil Whig - - & & - By Phillip Alder

Alfred North White­head, an English math­e­ma­ti­cian and philosopher who spent the last 23 years of his life in Cam­bridge, Mass., said, “It re­quires a very un­usual mind to un­der­take the anal­y­sis of the ob­vi­ous.” Ex­pert bridge play­ers will look for traps in ob­vi­ous-look­ing con­tracts. In today’s deal, though, it was the ob­vi­ous open­ing lead that proved fatal -- one of the hard­est “er­rors” to avoid. What do you think of West’s four­heart open­ing bid? How did South play in five di­a­monds after West led his heart ace, then shifted to a low spade?

With a side four-card ma­jor, the text­books tell you not to pre-empt. But these days, ex­perts are more flex­i­ble. Also, when you have a 7-4 shape, open with a game-bid. Either you will buy a good dummy and make game, or you won’t and even the three-level will be too high.

South has 11 po­ten­tial win­ners: two spades, six di­a­monds, one club and two heart ruffs in the dummy. After the heart-ace lead and spade shift, de­clarer wins that trick, cashes the di­a­mond ace to see the 3-0 break, and leads his club to dummy’s queen and East’s ace. Back comes another spade.

South wins in his hand, ruffs a heart with the di­a­mond seven, dis­cards his last spade on the club king, trumps a club, ruffs the heart queen with the di­a­mond eight, draws trumps, and claims. If only West had led a spade ini­tially, he would have de­feated the con­tract -- tough.

Fi­nally, note that five hearts dou­bled would prob­a­bly go down only two -- also tough, be­cause it is rarely right to bid five over five.

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