Sunday Times

Bridge

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Open­ing lead — five of clubs.

When a slam is bid, the dif­fer­ence be­tween mak­ing it and los­ing it or­di­nar­ily ranges from 1,000 to 1,800 points, de­pend­ing on vul­ner­a­bil­ity. Slams there­fore are wor­thy of the clos­est pos­si­ble at­ten­tion by both sides.

Con­sis­tent with the im­por­tance of slam hands, there are sev­eral de­fen­sive weapons that help to in­crease the chance of de­feat­ing an op­pos­ing slam.

One of these stip­u­lates that when a de­fender not on lead dou­bles a slam vol­un­tar­ily reached by the op­po­si­tion, he is di­rect­ing his part­ner to lead, or some­times not to lead, a spe­cific suit.

The ad­van­tage of this con­ven­tion is il­lus­trated by to­day’s deal. South makes the slam if West leads a heart, the suit East bid. But East’s dou­ble for­bids the nor­mal heart lead and calls for an unusual lead. It is not dif­fi­cult for West, with six cards in the suit dummy has bid, to de­duce that the rea­son for East’s dou­ble is that he can ruff a club.

So West leads a club, East ruffs, and East then cashes a heart to put the con­tract down one — 200 points. With a heart lead, South would score 1,660 points.

It is true that by us­ing such a con­ven­tion, the de­fend­ers might oc­ca­sion­ally lose an ex­tra 50 or 100 points they could have gained by dou­bling a slam. But this oc­ca­sional loss is a mighty cheap price to pay for de­feat­ing other slams that would oth­er­wise come rolling home.

The open­ing leader usu­ally has no trou­ble de­duc­ing which suit his part­ner wants led. Most im­por­tant of all, he is barred from lead­ing the suit his side has bid. Of the two side suits left, the leader’s hand will nearly al­ways tell him where to at­tack.

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