Which suit gets the nod from you?

The Signal - - CLASSIFIEDS - By Phillip Alder

Lord By­ron said, “I would rather ... have a nod from an Amer­i­can than a snuff-box from an em­peror.”

That was an un­ex­pected com­par­i­son. Nod is an­other of those words that has mul­ti­ple mean­ings. You can get the nod, or you can nod off. Look at the West hand in to­day’s di­a­gram. Be­fore you nod off, which card gets your nod as the best lead against three no-trump af­ter the given auc­tion?

This deal was played 15 times in a du­pli­cate. At 14 of those ta­bles, the con­tract was three no-trump af­ter the given auc­tion. Sur­pris­ingly, 13 times the con­tract made. Only one West led the heart seven, af­ter which the de­fend­ers took the first five tricks.

There is a gen­eral rule to lead the un­bid ma­jor against no-trump. Here, West def­i­nitely should have picked the heart seven.

No doubt you have no­ticed that five clubs is cold for North-South. In the du­pli­cate, one pair got there cour­tesy of East. Be­cause he was a passed hand, he thought it was fine to over­call two hearts on round two. Af­ter two passes, North made a take­out dou­ble. South, with noth­ing else to do, con­tin­ued with three clubs. (Yes, pass­ing the dou­ble and lead­ing a trump should have re­sulted in plus 500.) Af­ter West nudged with three hearts, North jumped to five clubs.

Fi­nally, did you no­tice the clever ruse that South could have tried in three no-trump af­ter the heart lead? He could have played the 10 from the board. Then, af­ter East won with his ace and re­turned the heart five, West might have erred by tak­ing the trick with his nine in­stead of the king.

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