Source: Eugene Register-Guard -1973

North dealer, North-South vulnerable

2 (strong)

Opening Lead: 9

When it comes to headaches, it’s better to give than to receive. What’s more, don’t be slow. For best results, deliver that headache at the earliest possible moment.

What should West lead against six hearts?

West knows that the diamonds will break very badly. West also knows that dummy will come down with a very strong hand, including all of the missing aces.

In short, West knows that his king of spades is probably in finessable position. The best way to wriggle out of this position is to force South to make up his mind before he knows much about the hand.

West gives declarer a headache by leading the nine of spades. The spade finesse gives South only an even chance for the contract. If he refuses the spade finesse and tries to set up a diamond, the odds are more than 5 to 1 in his favor.

South’s “correct” play, therefore, is to put up the ace of spades and lead out both top diamonds. If nothing bad happens, South can ruff a diamond, get to dummy with a trump and ruff another diamond. One more trump to dummy, and declarer will be in position to cash the last diamond and discard his losing spade.

Unfortunately for South, the “correct” play runs into misery. East ruffs the second diamond and leads a spade. Down two. The defense would fail if West makes a nomad diamond opening lead. Dummy wins, and South draws two rounds of trumps. He then leads a diamond to the ace, intending to go ahead with that suit.

When East discards on the second diamond, it becomes clear that the suit is hopeless. Hence South must fall back on a spade finesse, and now he makes his contract.

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