Mike's Advice


It has been said that a defender who makes good opening leads is way ahead of the player who defends well later in the hand. In the same way, a player who intends to do well later in the hand better know what to do at trick one when he is declarer.
Here is a hand that does not look like much until you uncover its secrets.

♠ 6
8 6 5 4 2
Q 9 2
♣ K J 9 3
♠ A Q 8 2
A K J 6
♣ A 7 6 5 4
West North East South
Pass 1 Pass 1♠
Pass 2♣ Pass 2
Pass 4♣ Pass 6♣
All Pass

Note North’s 4♣ bid. He made a preference bid of 2♣ on the second round and South made a game try with 2. North¹s hand is huge now and he made the interesting choice of 4♣. Would you have thought of that bid? South, now knowing that North has serious club support, bid 6♣.
West leads the ♣2
What is your line of play?
Second question. Imagine that North has ♣K J 10 9. What is your line of play?
Third question. Imagine that North has ♣ K Q 10 9. What is your line of play?
The lesson of this hand will be more meaningful if you decide on your play before reading on. You might wish to ask yourself why the correct play is the best play.
Be careful!
Take another look at the N-S cards and then answer this last question before looking at the entire hand.
Do you think that West has all four missing trump?
Remember that there are actually three separate hands for you to decide on.
The actual layout at the table

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

Let’s see what happens if you finesse the jack or nine at trick one. East plays the queen and you win the ace. If you go for the obvious line of ruffing three spades in dummy, it will leave West with the ♣ 10 8, both of which are winners.

The winning play is to rise with the king at trick one. It is impossible that West has the ♣Q 10 8 2. Have you ever seen anyone lead a trump from that holding? Once you see the danger and correctly play dummy’s king, you are home since you can ruff three clubs in dummy. You will lose a trick later but you can afford one loser. You just can not afford two.

Now consider what happens if dummy has the ♣K J 10 9. The first 10 players I showed this hand to reached for the ♣J, which was covered with the queen. South won and soon found that ruffing spades in dummy was not going to be a winning line. Even when dummy has super clubs like the KJ109, it was correct to play the king from dummy.

And if dummy has the KQ109, the same trap exists. Congratulations if you put up the king in all three layouts.

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