Vulnerable vs. not, N-S are in a 4S contract (South 1NT, North 4H, South 4S, all other bids passed). North's bid was a "transfer."



Frank Stewart reasonably points out that when West lead the K of clubs (presumably from KQT), South erred in taking A on the first trick. He then ruffed a club on the second trick, which I consider the real mistake.

My theory is that South can still save himself by returning the J of clubs to West's Queen on the second trick (pitching a diamond), win West's diamond return in dummy, go to his hand with a trump, and lead the 9 of clubs to West's T, pitching another diamond. When South regains the lead, he can ruff a diamond (high) in dummy, draw the last trump in hand, and ruff out the last diamond in dummy. In the remaining worst case scenario, South then finesses the Jack of hears "around" East and "into" West. (If East covers with an honor, South captures it with the ace and has reduced his heart losers to one). If West wins, he then has to lead a club for a ruff-sluff or away from a heart honor.

My understanding is as follows:

1) The operative strategy is "elimination."
2) South needs to keep East off lead to prevent him from leading a heart before the elimination is completed.
3) The way to achieve 2) is to lose club tricks to West, rather than diamond tricks to East.
4) The way to achieve 3) is to dump dummy's diamond losers on South's club losers, so that South's diamond losers can be ruffed rather than conceded (loser on loser play).
5) Switch the club 5 and 9 between dummy and closed hand, and South needs to lose the first trick by playing the 5, because otherwise, there is no guarantee that East won't win the lowest club.


  1. Am I correct in saying the first trick "mistake" was still correctable on the second trick in this instance?
  2. Have I analyzed the hand correctly from a strategic point of view?

  • If you win the first trick, a better option (IMO) is to ruff a club and play a diamond up. East has to win and return a heart (and west has to hold HKQ) for you to go down. If East does not win or does not return a heart, you can now eliminate clubs and play DA, diamond back. This requires a defensive mistake, though I would say is a better chance than playing opening leader for the CT.
    – Aryabhata
    Jan 6, 2016 at 1:32

1 Answer 1


Only if West has the Club 10. Ducking the first trick makes the location of the Club ten irrelevant (as witness that one ducks it by playing the Club 9 under the King).

So in one sense yes, declarer might be able to recover at trick 2; but declarer is guaranteed to make the contract by ducking trick one. (I guess unless West was dealt 8 clubs.)

You would probably enjoy There must be a Way by Andrew Diosy.

This hand also is interesting from an opening lead perspective. When I was learning Bridge I memorized the opening lead charts that were so popular at the time, which was good, but inferred from the ordering a false preference. These charts correctly identify which card to lead from various holdings, but make no comment on which suit to lead. It took me a while to unlearn that bad habit.

So now look at poor West's opening problem against a Texas Transfer auction to 4S:

S: 64
H: KQ83
D: J85

That Club lead looks so safe from that strong honour holding, but is one of only two suit choices that allows declarer to make the contract. Perhaps West should think more about the bidding and less about those glossy Opening Lead Charts.

The odds are high that South has at least one of the outstanding honours in both round suits, so those honour combinations are easily compromised by being lead from. So what about the pointed suits?

Leading low from Jxxx is a true beginner move, but from J85 less so. An argument could be made for both the 8 and the 5 as the appropriate lead her, the small lie being told by the former probably not fatal. But the flaw here is that if it works, one risks quickly winning the third round with the Jack, trumps now drawn, endplayed for sure in those round suits. Not enough plus side here, so let's save that lead for later; our Jack suggests that Declarer will not wish to open this suit quickly either unless to rectify the count.

That leaves Spades. Dummy has 6 (not likely 7), West has 2, and Declarer promised 2 with his opening 1NT call. That leaves only 3 outstanding, and the likelihood of partner having a compromisable Queen third very low.

Conclusion: Just lead a spade here, saving a diamond exit for later (if necessary) when we start winning those round honours, and let Declarer struggle to down one like he should.

  • Also Richard Pavlick on Double Squeezes is excellent: rpbridge.net/6d81.htm Jan 5, 2016 at 4:45
  • Note that though a diamond lead (any card) sets Declarer here, that doesn't make it a good lead; just a lucky one. It works because we found all five of partner's points in that suit, which is highly unlikely. Jan 5, 2016 at 5:23
  • I don't see how declarer is guaranteed to make the contract by ducking the first trick. What if West returns a trump at trick two?
    – Aryabhata
    Jan 6, 2016 at 1:25
  • btw, disagree with your last paragraphs about the opening lead. CK is a normal lead, even for mere experts. Recommending a diamond is a bit out there. A trump might seem safe, but you might need to make an active lead against texas auctions.
    – Aryabhata
    Jan 6, 2016 at 1:36
  • @Aryabhata: Really! Win in dummy; cash DA; win SA; Cash CA pitching Dx; Lead CJ pitching Dx; ruff diamond return (best) high in dummy. hands are now all stripped. Duck heart around to West to collect either slough-ruff in Clubs or heart end-play. Jan 6, 2016 at 3:09

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