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.