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P2L OF OCTOBER 10 ON CHOOSING YOUR OPENING LEAD
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Brevard Duplicate is a small, friendly club formed in March 2015, now in our third year.  Our club is located in Brevard, North Carolina--home of the white squirrel. Yes, you can sometimes see white squirrels in the parking lot.  Generally we host 4 to 6 tables and 6 to 8 in the summer months.  Brevard Duplicate holds its sessions in the French Broad Community Center at 281 E. French Broad Street.  This center belongs to the City of Brevard.  Parking at the Center is limited, so come early for the best spots.  There are coffee and snacks at the games.  Although small, the club welcomes all newcomers.  

 
P2L OF OCTOBER 10 ON CHOOSING YOUR OPENING LEAD
POINTS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOISNG YOUR BEST OPENING LEAD

PLAY TO LEARN (P2L) FOR OCTOBER 10, 2017

POINTS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING YOUR BEST OPENING LEAD

PRELIMINARIES

1.  Format of the session: Experienced players (XPs) will sit N and E; learning players (LPs) will sit S and W.  Session begins with a Review Exercise on choosing the best opening lead. Then four boards will be played.  Your table will discuss bidding/play after each board.  A general Q&A will follow focusing on what was learned from each board.  Then LPs will move to another table, meet new XPs and play the next board.

2.  You cannot make a mistake: this is a learning session without partnerships, scores, masterpoints or errors—ONLY THIS: experienced players graciously helping you improve your bridge skills.

3.  As you remove your cards from a board, you might consider doing these things:

     a. Count your cards face-down.  If other than 13, call the director.

     b. Inspect the faces. Might you have two of a certain card?

     c. Notice vulnerability. Is it none or all? That is “equal” vulnerability.  Are they vulnerable and your 

         partnership is not?  That is “favorable” vulnerability.  Are you and not they? “Unfavorable” VUL.

     d. What is your position on this board: dealer, seat 2, seat 3 or seat 4?

     e. Count your HCP (high-card-points).

     f. What is the distribution of your hand?  Balanced? Unbalanced? Very distributional?

4. Terminology for Bidders:

    a. Opener = first player to bid a suit or NT; not one who passes.

    b. Responder = partner of opener; often referred to as the Captain of this hand…sets final contract.

    c. Overcaller = opponent of opener/responder partnership who “calls over” their bid.

    d. Advancer = partner of overcaller.

5. Point Terminology:

    a. High Card Points (HCP) = sum of Aces (4HCP); Kings (3HCP), Queens (2 HCP) and Jacks (1HCP) in the hand.

    b. Length Points (LP) = 1 point for each card above four held in a suit. A 7-card suit, then, equals 3LP.

    c. Dummy Points (DP) = “short-suit points” added to hand value once trump is decided. Void = 5; Singleton = 3; Doubleton = 1.  NOTE: for other than an Ace, only the DP is counted for a singleton thus excluding its HCP.  A singleton J = No HCP-value and 3DP; a singleton Ace = 4HCP plus 3DP.

    d. Total Points (TP) = determined by the addition of HCP + LP or of HCP + DP.

WHAT THE LAWS OF DUPLICATE BRIDGE SAY ABOUT MAKING AN OPENING LEAD

Law 41 – Commencement of Play

41A. Face-down Opening Lead: “After a bid, double or redouble has been followed by three passes in rotation, the defender on presumed declarer’s left makes the opening lead face down.  The face-down lead may be withdrawn only upon instruction of the Director after an irregularity; the withdrawn card must be returned to the defender’s hand.”

Good idea:  the defender places card of opening lead on the table and asks, “Questions?”  Why?  Sometimes the defender about to make this lead is in error; she is NOT the defender who should be leading.  This “Questions?” gives everyone—particularly her partner—the opportunity to prevent this Opening Lead Out Of Turn irregularity…a rules violation.

41C. Opening Lead Faced: “…the opening lead is faced, the play period begins irrevocably, and dummy’s hand is spread.”

SO MUCH FOR THE REGS; WHAT ABOUT YOUR NEXT OPENING LEAD?

Let’s start with a quiz.  Get this right before proceeding: from a singleton, what card do you lead?

OK; right—silly, I know. But working as a defensive team you and your partner have one objective—wreck the opponent’s contract.  Success for the defenders is the failure of declarer to make the contract.  The way to do that is to agree on your defensive strategies just as you work to agree on your offensive ones.

THE OPENING LEAD:

1. Goal: the purposeful, strategical, defensive opening lead--rather than a non-purposeful opening  guess--designed to defeat or help defeat the opponents’ contract.

2.  Consider the ABCs of choosing your best opening lead:

     a. What did the Auction tell you?

     b. What Bid(s), if any, did your partner make?

     c. What Contract is the declarer attempting to make?

     d. What is the Distribution and Power of your hand?

POINT 1: THE AUCTION

     Opening lead is made into the oppositions’ contract.  What bids did they make to get there?

      N = 1S; You = 2H; S = Dbl; Partner = 3H

      N = 3S; You = P;   S = 4S; All Pass

      1. Spades is the obvious BAD lead.  Opponents bid it exclusively.

      2. Hearts is the obvious BEST lead.  Partner supported your suit.

      3. S’s Takeout Double indicates he is short in hearts; better get your heart tricks quickly.

POINT 2: THE BIDDING

     Partner EXPECTS you to respect her bids; lead to them.

      You = 1H; E = Pass; Partner = 1S; W = 3C; All pass

       1. Partner did not support your hearts; favored spades.

       2. W’s 3C shows a long, quality suit with shortness somewhere—probably hearts and/or spades.

       3. Partner knows you have heart stopper(s); you respect partner’s bid and lead a spade; partner

           will send you a heart lead; get your spade and heart tricks quickly before W can trump them.

POINT 3: THE CONTRACT

    Your BEST lead vs NT can be your WORST lead against a suit contract.

       With the opening lead against a 4D contract you hold (neither you nor partner bid);

                                             S:J87542; H:A9; D:8532; C:7

            Best lead may be = C7; NOT a spade (either declarer or dummy probably holds A or K) NOR

            H Ace (an unsupported Ace); hopefully partner will take that trick and kindly return your lead

            so you can ruff the second club trick with a low diamond.  Sometimes against a trump contract

            leading from shortness is a good option.

         Holding the SAME HAND, you are now leading against 3NT;

            Best lead may be S5; hopefully your length in spades will eventually produce winners.  Most

              of the time against a NT contract leading from length is a good option.

POINT 4: THE DISTRIBUTION AND POWER

    Enjoy leading from length against a NT contract and from power against a trump contract.

                                You hold: S:AK3; H:T876432; D:5; C:83

            Best lead against a 5D contract is the S Ace = power lead.  The so-called “Hare Approach” =

                     get a quick start when leading against a suit contract.

            Best lead against a 3NT contract is H6 = length lead.  The so-called “Tortoise Approach” =

                    use a slow start to develop future winners.

THE TWO DYNAMINCS IN CHOOSING THE BEST OPENING LEAD; THE SUIT AND THE CARD

POINTS TO CONSIDER IN CHOOSING THE BEST SUIT FOR YOUR OPENING LEAD.

Point 1: The auction—who bid what?  Or didn’t?

a. Deciding your opening lead involves listening to the whole auction and then drawing intelligent inferences from it.

b. If partner bid it or overcalled it, lead it. Better have a good reason not to. You want a happy partner.

c. If “they” bid it, maybe not a good suit to lead.

d. No help from “silent” partner?  Lead from your “best” suit—longest against NT and strongest

    against a suit contract.  Two suits of equal length = lead the stronger.

e. If the suit was not bid by the opposition, hmmmm….could be your sign…er, suit.

f. No suit was bid; only NT? Lead from length toward establishing “spot” cards—meaning lower than

   the Ten--as possible future winners.

Point 2:  Short suit or long suit?

a. Guidelines: against NT, length is your friend; perhaps not against a suit contract when declarer can

    ruff your honors.

b. Leading against a suit contract AND with length in trumps, shortness (singleton or doubleton) can

    be a very good friend. Partner must lead suit back to you at some point prior to declarer drawing all

    your trumps.  But don’t give away your sure trump winners with a “shortness” opening lead.  And

    don’t make leading that singleton your automatic, go-to lead.

c. Leading trumps? 

    1) A good idea when declarer appears to need trumps in dummy to ruff his losers.  The auction

        and/or your hand can tell you this.

    2) Also a good idea when your partnership has the HCP (high card points) but opposition won the

        auction and are on the ropes.  

POINTS TO CONSIDER IN CHOOSING THE BEST CARD FOR YOUR OPENING LEAD VS NT.

Point 1: If Leading Partner’s Suit (clearly the best idea unless you have something much better.)       

Choices

Notrump Opening Lead = PARTNER’S BID/OVERCALLED/OR SUPPORTED SUIT

Top card from doubleton: 8-4; K-7 (the latter uses “playing the high card from short-side first” principle); this may unblock suit for future tricks.

Lead top of touching honors: K-Q-4; J-T-6

Otherwise: a) lead low: Q-9-4 = third from an honor; b) K-T-6-3 = fourth highest; c) 8-4-2 = low from nothing. NOTE: some partnerships prefer 8-4-2 (“mud” = middle, up, down); some 8-4-2. Just agree with partner which. Hitting the long-suit winners is more vital than leading the long suit vs NT.

OK to lead away from an Ace in NT.

Point 2: If Leading Your Suit

Choices

Notrump Opening Lead = YOUR SUIT

When Holding Four or Five Cards and a Sequence of at least Three Cards:

a) Q-J-T-4-3 = Lead top of touching honors in a three-card sequence.

b) K-Q-T-7-5 = Lead top of touching honors in a broken (third card missing) sequence.

c) K-J-T-5 = Lead top of touching honors in an interior (second card missing, then two honors) sequence.

Otherwise: lead low from your longest suit (holding four or more cards) = KJ652 = fourth highest.

Hitting the long-suit winners is more vital than leading the long suit vs NT.

NOTE: The Rule of Eleven1) your partnership agrees to lead low from longest suit;        2) partner’s opening lead is a 7; 3) subtraction: 11 – 7 = 4; 4) Result: there are only four cards higher than the 7 in the other three hands. In the dummy you see Q8, and you hold KT2 (you can see four cards higher than the 7).  Declarer holds NO card higher than partner’s lead.  How would it apply here? If declarer played dummy’s 8, you take the trick with your T, saving your K for later. Obviously, this will not work on every hand and requires partnership agreement that leading fourth highest is an agreed upon strategy. It is usually used against NT contracts given the fourth-highest-lead concept, but can be effective against suit contracts.

POINTS TO CONSIDER IN CHOOSING THE BEST CARD FOR YOUR OPENING LEAD VS SUIT CONTRACT.

Point 1: If Leading Partner’s Suit (clearly the best idea unless you have something much better.)       

Choices

Suit Opening Lead = PARTNER’S BID/OVERCALLED/OR SUPPORTED SUIT

Top card from doubleton: 8-4; K-7 (the latter uses “playing the high card from short-side first principle); this may unblock suit for future tricks.

Lead top of touching honors: K-Q-4; J-T-6

Otherwise: a) lead low: Q-9-4 = third from an honor; b) K-T-6-3 = fourth highest; c) 8-4-2 = low from nothing. NOTE: some partnerships prefer 8-4-2 (“mud” = middle, up, down); some 8-4-2. Just agree with partner which.

Usually safer to lead an Ace than to lead away from it on opening lead.  Lead Ace with A-8-3 or A-J-T-4.  Underleading the Ace from A-8-3 or from A-J-T-4 may later see your Ace become a wasted honor as declarer trumps it.  Lead your Ace if partner bid, overcalled or supported the suit.

Point 2: If Leading Your Suit

Choices

Suit Opening Lead = YOUR SUIT

When Holding Four or Five Cards and Sequence of at Least Two Cards:

a) K-Q-3 or Q-J-5 = Lead top of touching honors in a two-card sequence.

b) K-Q-T-7-5 = Lead top of touching honors in a broken (third card missing) sequence.

c) K-J-T-5 = Lead top of touching honors in an interior (second card missing, then two honors) sequence.

 Lead high from TWO touching honors = KQ or JT; avoid leading K with Kx or Q with Qx unless this is partner’s suit.

Otherwise: lead low from your longest suit (holding four or more cards) = KJ652 = fourth highest.

Usually best to avoid leading an Ace on the opening lead.  Against slam contracts and when holding a long suit are two exceptions. 

If your best suit is headed by an Ace, lead it rather than a low card.  If Axx, lead it if partner supported it; otherwise look for another suit. Partner needs to know you never lead away from an Ace.  If your best suit is headed by Ace-King, lead the Ace.

THE CONTRACT CAN DRAMTICALLY CHANGE YOUR LEAD.

The best lead against a NT contract can be awful against a suit contract.  Here’s an example:

                                        You hold: S=QT74; H=5; D=AK863; C: 763

What is your best lead against 4HDiamond A; then the K (particularly if there is one in dummy) followed by your third diamond; partner may ruff on the third round).  The “hare” approach vs a suit contract—get your tricks quickly.

What is your best lead against 3NT? Small Spade.  The “tortoise” approach vs a NT contract—set up possible future winners.  If partner plays her King and declarer takes the trick with his Ace, your Queen is now the top card.  Should declarer later play his Jack, you can play your Q, then your Ten and most likely your 7 will take a third spade trick.  Your Diamond Ace and King serve as entries into your hand as well.