Independent Pursuits: Bridge

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The Independent Culture
IT IS odd how a poor choice of opening lead can have a domino effect. This deal struck me as an excellent example (or, as I was defending, a very irritating example). South, playing the odd mixture of a weak no- trump and five card majors, opened One Club and North responded One Diamond. South's rebid of 1 No-trumps showed 15-17 points and he went on to game when North raised to Two.

West, on lead against 3 No-trumps, judged that South might well hold a four-card heart suit and selected a nondescript #V for his opening salvo. (Even my grandmother would have led !K - if it seems to be working badly, there will be plenty of time for a switch.) Declarer played low from dummy and, after winning with #Q, I returned a low heart. South ducked this but won the heart continuation and ran #J to my king. West won the next heart lead and exited safely with another diamond.

After winning on the table and discarding a spade from hand, South came back with 2A and finessed 2J successfully. Next came 2K but the suit did not behave. On this, however, I had to part with a spade, but now dummy's last diamond finished me. Discarding in front of declarer, I had the choice of unguarding the hearts or releasing another spade. I chose the spade but it did not matter - South's losing heart went away and now 410 provided the ninth trick.

The cumulative effect of the lead - our hearts became blocked, one of my entries was taken away, and in an unforeseen fashion - so the defenders had organised the perfect timing for a squeeze. And if West had guarded the spades? No matter, for he has to keep his 2Q and would also have had to come down to only two spades.

Love all; dealer South

North

48 5 3

!5 3

#A 10 8 6

2K J 7 3

West East

4Q 9 4J 7 4 2

!K Q J !10 7 6 2

#7 4 3 2 #K Q 9

2Q 9 8 4 210 2

South

4A K 10 6

!A 9 8 4

#J 5

2A 6 5

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