~Defensive Leads #1

The opponents’ bidding has gone:

South          North
1S               3S

What should West lead from:
H A94
C Q632

S J63
H K2
D 9654
C 8532

H 4
D QT42
C K7432

S JT93
H K543
D 2
C KT42


a. The bidding suggests ruffing values and your first effort should be to limit that capability for declarer. Lead the spade 3. Partner is unlikely to have many values, but the bidding and your hand suggest that partner may hold 4-6 HCP. If partner happens to hold a spade honor, you will both eliminate trumps in the dummy for declarer to use and set up a trump trick for yourself.

b. Partner stands to hold a fairly good hand. Perhaps that holding includes the A of hearts or the Q of hearts and the A of spades. Lead the heart K and hope to win the A and K of hearts and get a heart ruff–or set up the Q of hearts in partner’s hand for a winning spade, a winning heart, and a heart ruff.

c. The heart singleton seems to be the best lead–better than a low spade or the fourth-high club. As Eddie Kantar says, “When holding a side-suit singleton, lead it. If holding no side-suit singleton, lead it anyway.”

d. When should you not lead a side-suit singleton in an unbid suit? When holding a hand such as this one. You stand to win one trump regardless of the lead. Why not use your trumps to reduce declarer’s ruffing opportunities without concern about losing the trump trick? Why use a sure trump trick to ruff a second round heart? Maybe when partner has bid a suit and there is a possibility of getting two ruffs. That is not the situation here. The spade J appears to be the best lead.


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