” When, as a defender, you are about to attack from a holding such as J-x, Q-x or K-x, consider the possible advantage of leading a low card.”
Rixi (Rika “Rixi” Markus) wrote for the Guardian and the Evening Standard and is the author of several books.
When you, as a defender, you are about to attack a suit in wich you have a holding such as J-x, Q-x or K-x, do you invariably lead tghe high card? Most players always do, but this is sometimes quite a costly mistake.
My bridge tip is that when you have to open up such holding you consider the possible advantage of leadingthe low card. This may well work better when the hand on your left is marked with strength in this suit, and especially when you have no re-entry to your hand.
Suppose, for example, that at some point during the defence you lead the king for K-x and the next hand wins with the ace from A-J-x. Now, if you yourself cannot regain the lead, your partner will be stymied, even if his holding is as strong as, say, Q-10-9-x.
He will be unable to continue the suit except at the cost of a trick. Had you led low instead, the suit cold have been cleared. ( I am assuming, of course, that your partner is well endowed with entries.)
I was able to put this tip to good use in a recent rubber. South opened with a weak 1NT, showing 12 to 14 points, and finished in 3NT after the sequence below. What would you have led from the West hand?
Dealer: South. Neither Vunerable
|A K 10
K J 9 8 5
Q 7 4 2
10 7 4 3 2
6 4 3
8 6 5
|J 9 7 6 5 4
A J 9
K Q 8 5
10 7 2
A K J 9
As South was unwilling to pass his partner’s penalty double of two spades, it seemed clear that the spade strengh was likely to be in the dummy hand. Accordingly, in wiew of the absence of amy re-entry to my own hand, I decided to lead the 2 rather than the queen.
As you can see, declarer could no longer cope with his task. He won with the ace, entered his hand with a club, and led a diamond, losing to my partner’s queen. Declarer ducked the spade return, allowing my queen to hold, but i was able to put partner in with the A to clear the spades. NOw South could take only eight tricks.
It is easy to see that if West leads the Q initially, declarer will win with the ace and make the contract, as East will be unable to attack spades effectively.
These situations occur quite frequently during the middle game, when it often pays to lead a small card from doubleton honour. This is especially so when you can see three or four cards smaller than your honour in dummy privided that your partner is an intelligent player who can interpret the meaning of your plan of action.
Think of this type of situation:
9 6 2
A J 7 4 10 5
K Q 8 3
East is on lead and the defence need two tricks from this suit. If East has no further entry he must lead the 5, not the 10, and West must read the situation; when he captures the queen with the ace he must steel himself to return the suit.
There is an excellent example of Rixi’s Bols Tip in her book, Aces and Places. She writes there:
” I am very ambitious about defence. With a good partner you can try and beat contracts which seem unbeatable;but you need co-operation, which you get only from a first class partner. Here is was Benito Garozzo who undestood my reason for an unorthodox but successfull attempt to beat four spades shich was made at every other table.
Dealer: East. N/S Vunerable
K 8 x x
A K 9 x x
|A Q x
Q x x
Q 9 x x
x x x
K J 10 9 x x
Q J 10
|K 10 9 x x x
A 10 7
After I had opened three hearts sitting East, South played in 4 and West led the Q. I overtook with the king and declarer won with the ace.
He then crossed to dummy with a club and finessed a spade to Garozzo’s queen. I won the heart return, but what now?
It seemed to me that with the clubs breaking even I had to set up a diamond trick quickly, at the same time attacking dummy’s entry. You will see that if I lead the J West cannot continue the suit when if with the A. So i had to find the lead of a low diamond.