Jeff Lehman

Are there any clues?

Playing in a sectional open Swiss, where you are facing a pair that has won many open regional events, you engage in a spirited auction, none vulnerable:

All Pass
(1) after long hesitation



South leads a Rusinow K.



The ruff/sluff lead takes care of any diamond losers: you can ruff the lead in dummy and pitch a diamond from your hand, with your other non-top diamond being eventually pitched on the fifth heart from dummy.  This contract appears to come down to not losing a trick to the J.

Are there clues as to the trump holdings of NS?

I submitted this hand to Bridge Winners asking the question in the title and not offering more than my side’s 26 cards, after I had chosen a play line that adversely swung 22 IMPs for my team.  (By the way, kudos to my partner and teammates who failed — well, at least in my presence — to have criticized my line of play.)  Oh yeah, we lost that match by 21 IMPs.

I led a diamond to my king at Trick 2 (not entirely safe, but perhaps South would have led a red suit singleton if owning one), so that I could lead a club through South at Trick 2, hoping that South might show a singleton J, or much less likely, a singleton A.  Well, the diamond was not ruffed (good) but the club lead produced only a small club from South (disappointing).  Dummy’s Q was topped by North’s A.

North returned a club.

What do you play?  What might have caused the hesitation of North?

I concluded that North might have been concerned that a double would telegraph a trump holding of AJx.  Accordingly, I ducked the club return …

… and lost to the doubleton J.  Converting +1090 into -100, when matched against my teammates’ -300, swung the board from a gain of 13 IMPs to a loss of 9 IMPs, a 22 IMP difference!

The publishing of this hand in Bridge Winners did produce a small consolation prize.  Kit Woolsey commented and independently inferred the same cause as did I for the hesitation of North.

Perhaps I am not as hopeless as I felt by going -100.

But I would still rather own the 22 IMPs.



Dave Memphis MOJOJune 6th, 2015 at 4:35 pm

What do you think of the king of spades lead? I think it stinks after his partner thought forever THEN doubled. He knew the double wasn’t for a lead, so tried to cash his side trick.

Jeff LehmanJune 7th, 2015 at 1:03 am

Hadn’t even thought of that, Mojo. At the table post mortem, North criticized the lead of his partner South. (I was assuming because it could, and did, give a useful ruff/sluff … but maybe the [unsaid] source of North’s criticism was that South seemed to be taking advantage of the Break in Tempo, in violation of Law 16). South said she was hoping for two cashing aces. At the time, South’s comment made sense to me, in that we had hardly engaged in a scientific auction.

Your point, I think, is that an in-tempo double could be a Lightner double, thus inducing South to try to identify which red suit void was held by North. That seems a valid point. Sure seems likely that a red suit lead would be a Logical Alternative on an in-tempo double, and that the red suit lead choice becomes less attractive when the double is not in tempo.

Howard Bigot-JohnsonJune 7th, 2015 at 6:21 am

HBJ : Would North double with AJx of clubs ? Strangely he might not in fear of exposing the club position when possibly aware the spade king might not stand up.
Yet he might well try a frisky double on the basis of 2 black bullets.
Was there an air of disappointment when the opening spade lead was trumped ? Table presence is a remarkable and useful skill to have.
Does the rule 8 ever 9 never apply in such situations as this , especially in the light of my first two observations.
With the hesitation North could be nervous over the merit of the double , which gives the slight inference he hasn’t the jack of clubs.

Jeff LehmanJune 7th, 2015 at 11:10 am


North having two aces when it is South that opened the bidding in first seat seems extremely unlikely, no? Not to mention that the lead of the king from a KQ combination would be without their Rusinow partnership agreements.

How can North not be disappointed at having the lead ruffed, especially given the doubt of a set suggested by the hesitation?

Thanks for contributing.

— Jeff

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