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20th Oct 2021 17:49 EDT
Hand of the Month - Oct. 2021
13th Sep 2021 21:06 EDT
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The Thornhill Club

7994 Yonge Street, Thornhill, Ont

905-881-3000

Hand of the Month - Oct. 2021
THINK BEFORE MAKING THAT "SAFE" OPENING LEAD

                                                                                                                                                                  

 

SJ 8                             
HK 10 5
DA Q 9 3
C10 7 4 3

SA K 5 4
HJ 3
D8 6 3
CA Q 8 5

Table

SQ 10 9 6 3 2  
HQ 8                
D10 4
C9 6 2

 

S
HA 9 7 6 4 2 

DK J 7 2

CK J

Opening Lead - ?

South dealer

N-S vulnerable

The bidding:

South

1H

4D

 

 

West

Dble

4S

North

 Redbl

  5D

East

3S

 

      

  

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This deal occurred in a national team championship in 1977.  At the first table, the bidding went as shown, and South got to five diamonds.  East's three spade bid, in response to West's takeout double, was strictly preemptive and was intended to cramp the opponent's bidding space.  It indicated a long spade suit in an otherwise worthless hand.

West was Peter Nagy, playing with Eric Kokish, both well-known Canadian stars.  It did not seem to Nagy that he could defeat the contract by making the routine opening lead of the king of spades.  In fact, had he done so, South would have made five diamonds easily, scoring four diamonds, six hearts and a spade ruff for 11 tricks.

Instead, Nagy made the imaginative and highly unorthodox opening lead of the four of spades!  Kokish won dummy's eight with the nine, and it did not take long for him to figure out why his partner had underlead the A-K of spades.  He shifted to a club, and Nagy cashed the Q-A of clubs to put the contract down one faster than Declarer could say "Good play".

The hand aptly illustrates that a player should not allow himself to fall into the habit of making so-called "automatic" or routine plays in the vast majority of deals, the king or ace of spades would be the normal opening lead, and no one would give even a moment's thought to any other lead.

But here, as Nagy demonstrated so well, he not only thought of the four of spades as a possible opening lead but had the courage of his convictions to lead it.  His reward was a gain of 700 points.

Source: Steve Becker, Globe and Mail, September 13, 2021