A Bridge Question

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Catching up on all the important journals after a short holiday I found the above deal in the Bridge column of The Oldie.

I’m not sure I would have the courage to bid to 7NT as South – 7♦ seems a more likely contract – but in the game described that’s what happened.

West led the 8♦, which in my view plays directly into South’s hands. Declarer already has 12 tricks guaranteed, and the 13th needed for a Grand Slam comes easily if West holds the Q♣, which is indeed the case. However, South didn’t even need the club finesse to succeed in taking all 13 because East discarded two clubs as South played off the obvious Diamond and Spade winners, so the Queen fell to either the A♣ or the K♣ on a club lead.

My question, though, as a mediocre player, is why did West lead a diamond?  South had opened with 1♦, and North had jumped to 3♦  before South’s slam try with 4NT (Blackwood). Against 7♦ West’s would have been a standard defensive lead of a trump, but in No Trumps surely it is better here to follow convention and lead the 4th highest of the longest suit, ie the 8♥? South would then have to play the Ace from dummy, which at least destroys one line of communication as the A♦ can no longer provide an entry to dummy.

I think Declarer still makes the contract but my question is, against this lead, does South have to try the club finesse?

2 Responses to “A Bridge Question”

  1. I poked a couple of better players than me – replies all agreed but this was the most verbose (and being non-verbal easiest to copy and paste) from bridge teacher Ned Paul:
    “Leading a trump is normal against a grand slam – they are not likely to be missing an ace, so leading a pseudo trump against NTs (they have bid and supported diamonds) serves the same neutral purpose. [Why did they bid 7NT and not 7D?: When you bid a grand slam it is also fairly normal unless the hand is dependent on shape to convert into no trumps and so avoid any accidental first round enemy ruff.]

    If you do choose a heart lead from KJ10875 you may be giving away a trick to the queen – fortunate to find partner with this card when a slam has been bid. Against 3NT you can hope for help; against 6/7NT help is unlikely – queen in declarer’s hand is too strong a possibility. Also the normal lead from KJ10875 is the J – top of interior sequence – not the 8 fourth highest. Fourth highest leads are reserved for suits where you don’t have three honours and therefore need help from partner. If partner doesn’t have help you are willing to give up a second heart trick in the hope of eventually bringing in the suit against 3NT. This won’t happen against a slam – you will never get the lead enough.

    The play in 7NT is straightforward. South can cash the spades finding out East has the spade guard and then the finesse is unnecessary as if East has the CQ he will be squeezed on the run of the diamonds, unable to keep both the winning spade and the guard on the CQ. As East, you defend the threat that is certain (the spade) not the threat that is hidden (and may actually not exist although it does on this occasion) and so discarding down to Qx of clubs is correct. South discards after East has made a choice so the squeeze works. The squeeze operates whether the opening lead is a diamond or a heart – if they don’t lead a heart it still needs to be played off. for the squeeze to operate.”

    • telescoper Says:

      Very good reply, thank you. Shows how rusty I am!

      I did however manage to work out that East can be forced to expose the Club Queen to the drop in either case. It’s just a matter of playing the sequence of clubs and diamonds correctly and watching the discards.

      I would have led Jack from J109…

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