13 November 2010


After a tournament some time ago a group of us were discussing hands and that day there had been the opportunity to lead from KJ9x to beat 3NT. Unsurprisingly not many had found the lead and when asked about which card they might pick preferred "we don't lead from that sort of holding" rather than giving an answer. But, said a friend of mine, what if you had KJ9x in all four suits?

Any card from any combination of cards can be the right lead on a hand. The rules we're all taught are good starting points but they don't substitute for thinking. One of my favourite leads is K from Kx into 3NT contracts. If your partner has bid the suit it doesn't count. Here's a recent example:

K 6
T 9 7 2
J 9 4 2
J T 7

And the auction:
1 1NT1
22 2NT3

3Not 3 and not 4

So we know that RHO is either 2335 or 2344, no other shape fits with the bidding. A priori 4432 is more likely occurring about 4 times out of 7. Lets go through the suits, Clubs would lead into declarers suit but given our holding probably won't cost - good if we want to be passive. Diamonds seem wrong, Jxxx is always a bad combination and more often than not declarer will have as many as we do. Hearts are on our right and there's quite likely to be 5 of them. So I get to lead the K♠.

T 9 7 2
K 3
Q 7 5
A Q 9 4
A Q 4 3
Q J 8 4 3
T 6 3
J 8 5
A 5
A K 8
K 6 5 3 2
K 6
T 9 7 2
J 9 4 2
J T 7
Everyone gets to have a giggle when the AQ of spades comes down on the dummy but it's not much of a problem. If declarer needs spade tricks the hook was working and my King dropping. As expected we've hit partners suit but sadly dummy has 4 as well.

The KS has actually been good even though partner doesn't have an attractive QJ9xx holding. The entries to the heart suit are now few and if declarer plays for hearts 3-3 rather than for the exact holding shown there's only 2 tricks to be had. With only  2 hearts, 3 spades, 2 diamonds and a club the contract failed. 

Is this contract ever going to make? Probably not though a prescient declarer might manage it and careless defense is all too easy. Regardless, I got to lead from my favourite holding and it worked in so far as it didn't cost. Incidentally from KJ9x I'd lead the Jack as it makes you look like a superstar when you surround the Ten in this position.
8 4
Q 5 2A T 7 5
K J 9 3

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