ACES ON BRIDGE
There are few things more aggravating at the bridge table than to be dealt a sequence on lead, and to find that leading from it is the only way to let through a contract. I don’t know about you, but when this happens to me, it always feels as if The Great Shuffler is holding me up as an example to make fun of.
That was no doubt what West felt at the end of today’s deal. After South (playing four-card majors) had shown a minimum opener with no shortage, North drove to slam. West saw no reason to look beyond the spade jack for his opening lead. He must have felt more than a little uncomfortable when dummy went down, but when declarer won in dummy, he breathed again, feeling relatively comfortable that his partner had the queen.
Declarer was able to turn the screws on him at once, though, by drawing trumps ending in hand, leading a low spade, ducking West’s seven, and letting East win his now-bare spade queen.
Had that player had a spade left to lead, the suit would have broken 3-3, and there would have been a home for South’s diamond loser. As it was, East had to play a minor suit, and his only chance was to lead a club, hoping that declarer had started with a doubleton. But declarer could win cheaply and discard dummy’s diamond loser on the club winner in due course.
If East unblocks his spade queen at trick one, declarer builds a discard from the spade eight for his contract.
Answer: Even if this might not be your style, can I suggest that the odds favor doubling here? Not because you will beat it on any lead — of course that isn’t necessarily so. But if you play (as do many) that this asks your partner to lead from his shortest major, then you have a decent shot to attract a heart lead — after which it would be disappointing for declarer to be able to make nine tricks.