Mike Lawrence
Mike Lawrence

Wikipedia: Michael Steven Lawrence (born May 28, 1940) is an American bridge player, teacher, theorist, and prolific writer. Lawrence was born in San Francisco. He started playing bridge while he was a chemistry student at the University of California.

In 1968, he was invited by Ira Corn to join the newly formed Dallas Aces team. He formed a partnership with Bobby Goldman, with whom he played a 2/1 game forcing system. They started by winning several North American Bridge Championships and, after a long Italian Blue Team reign, returned the world crown to America by winning the Bermuda Bowls in 1970 and 1971. Lawrence and James Jacoby left the Aces in 1973.

He has written more than twenty books. He received numerous book-of-the-year awards starting with his first book, How to Read Your Opponents’ Cards. He contributed to the theory of 2/1 game forcing systems, and his “2/1 semi-forcing” approach competes with Max Hardy’s “unconditional forcing” approach. Together, they wrote the book Standard Bridge Bidding for the 21st Century in 2000. He also helped develop educational bridge software with Fred Gitelman.

In addition to his world championships with the Aces, Lawrence has won another Bermuda Bowl in 1987 in partnership with Hugh Ross along with  teammates Hamman, Wolff, Martel and Stansby.

IMPs Dealer North. Neither Vul

Q 10 7 2
Q 10 9 6 3
K 9 5
West North East South
1 Pass 1
Pass 1 Pass 1NT
Pass 3NT End

North-South arrive in 3NT after bidding three suits. West has two suits normally worth leading but on this occasion, they have both been bid by North-South. Should West lead one of his long suits anyway or should he consider the unbid suit, diamonds?


You lead?


The winning lead turns out to be a heart. But you must be careful about which heart you lead. Normally from the Q109xx combination, the correct lead is the ten. On this hand, South had bid hearts and that dictates you either not lead the suit or that you lead your fourth best instead.

The hand here shows exactly why that is correct. If you lead the 5, East’s king beats dummy’s jack. East will continue the suit and it ill become good for four tricks at once. When West gets in with the K, 3NT is defeated. If West leads the 10, East covers but declarer’s 8 7 6 still stop the suit.

Declarer has time to set up nine tricks. When you have a sequence such as the Q J 10 4 3 or the one in this hand, consider leading fourth best instead of the sequence card on those occasions where an opponent has bid the suit.

As an aside, note how badly a spade lead works. Leading against notrump from a soft holding in a suit that was bid on your left is notoriously bad.

A K 8 3
Q J 7
A K J 7 5
Q 10 7 2
Q 10 9 6 3
K 9 5
9 5
K 4 2
6 4 2
Q 9 4 3 2
J 6 4
A 8 7 6
A 10 8 3
10 6

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