Opening lead — queen of hearts.
To be a good bridge player, you must not only make as few mistakes as possible, but also bid or play in such a way as to induce the opponents to make as many mistakes as possible.
Neither goal is easy to attain, but one of the most effective ways of putting pressure on the opponents and causing them to err is by making pre-emptive bids at a high level.
For example, take this hand played in a world championship match between Italy and the US. At one table, where the Italians held the North-South cards, the bidding went as shown. The American West opened with four clubs, and North doubled for takeout.
South now had a difficult problem to solve. To pass was out of the question, so he had to choose between bidding four or five diamonds.
South opted for five diamonds, which turned out very badly. East doubled, and when the smoke cleared, South was down four. West led the queen of hearts, which held, and shifted to the king of clubs. East ruffed dummy’s ace and played the A-K and another heart. Declarer ruffed high, but East still had to get two spade tricks for plus 700 (800 in today’s scoring).
At the second table, with an American pair now North-South, the bidding went:
At this table, West opened three clubs, not four, so there was less reason for a jump-response by South, and North passed the three-diamond response. South finished down two for a loss of only 100 points. The Italian West should have followed the general rule that when you make a pre-emptive bid, you should pre-empt as high as possible. Had he opened with four clubs, the result at the first table might well have been duplicated.