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At matchpoint duplicate bridge, not vulnerable vrrsus vulnerable, and sitting West, I held

♠ AK32
♡ J643
♢ 6
♣ JT82

Partner (East) opened one heart, South overcalled one spade, I raised to two hearts, North bid two spades, and there were three passes, giving me the opening lead.

I led my diamond singleton, and (FWIW) dummy came down:

♠ JT95
♡ A
♢ JT92
♣ KQ64

Partner asked me why i didn't lead her heart suit. I pointed out, with the benefit of hindsight, that dummy had a singleton ace, meaning that we would not take tricks in that suit. Even without the "look," I feared that given my partner's and my heart length, one of the opponents would have a singleton (or void).

Given my singleton, I wanted to be able to ruff diamonds with my little spades. I had two trump "stoppers" and I wanted to save partner's (presumed) heart entry so she could lead diamonds.

I might not have done this with the spade KQxx or QJxx because I would need the "little" cards to protect my honors. But here, I thought best use of the 3 and 2 would be as ruffers.

Was I right to lead my singleton? Or was partner right to insist on a heart lead? Or perhaps the mistake was that neither of us bid three hearts earlier?

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  • 2
    Can we talk about that overcall!?! The lead here is not the interesting issue….
    – Joe
    Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 2:53

4 Answers 4

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I am pretty sure that 90% or more of experts would lead the singleton diamond, and at least close to that percentage would not have passed 2[spades].

There are hands where you lead your suit instead of a singleton, but this is not that kind of hand nor that kind of bidding.

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  • Exactly. Even more useful for roughing small diamonds would be the Heart 6, 4, and 3. Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 11:49
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There is an adage, that when you have long trumps you should lead your side's longest suit. The objective being, that you can force declarer to use up enough trumps ruffing your long suit and they will loose control of the trump suit which can often produce more tricks than ruffing low diamonds.

This would seem a reasonable strategy to start with, even though it is quickly becomes apparent their heart shortage is in the short trump hand so unlikely to work, but you can still switch strategies later - So your partner does have a point about leading their suit.

Although with your 4 hearts I think they should have a bigger issue that you should respond 2S (forcing to 3H) rather than 2H - or at least raise to 3H over their 2S (Either would probably push opponents up to 3S rather than let you play 3H)! Then 3S would extract more penalties for you.

I suspect you saw diamond ruffs and chose to defend even before you explored whether your side had game on, or had got to a position where you might double the opponents for penalties!

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You have 11 points in support of partner, so a raise to 3H would be standard. If you play Unassuming Cue Bids, then a cue bid of 2S would show a sound raise to 3H, again interfering with the opponents' normal bidding.

The fact that dummy had a singleton ace was not a helpful answer to partner's question about your opening lead, as you could not have known that.

PS: It is always helpful, when asking bidding questions, to mention the system you and your partner play, as well as the opponents, if they bid. Even with US-American players there is a great difference between SAYC and Two-over-One, to say nothing of the various add-ons played.

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  • I do not know a single good player who would play 3H as a limit raise in this situation; it's universally played as weak. Given partner opened, not opponents, 2S is unambiguously a raise of hearts, not unassuming. If my only choices were 2H, 3H, and 2S, I would raise to 2H on this hand but wouldn't object to 2S. If my partnership had a bid for a mixed raise I would make that. I wouldn't let the bidding die at 2S though - at MPs with opps vulnerable, I might venture a double but would never pass; +100 looks like a terrible score. Commented Mar 28 at 1:59
  • Hi Alexander, 2S as a sound raise to 3H is the Unassuming Cue Bid convention, which may be so common in the USA as to be counted as part of the system. They do not require the opponents to open. bridgewebs.com/alton/Unassuming%20Cue%20Bids.pdf I don't play any form of Standard American, so I checked with some sources online before answering. kwbridge.com/2over1.htm For SAYC, Downey & Pomer's "Standard Bidding with SAYC" (p. 69): "Your partner opens 1♥. With 3- or 4-card support for partner’s major and 10-12 points, your response is a limit raise of 3♥."
    – AlDante
    Commented Mar 28 at 16:28
  • Oh, and if you are playing Unassuming Cue Bids, then yes, of course 3H would be weak. That's the point of the convention.
    – AlDante
    Commented Mar 28 at 16:29
  • this is a difference in terminology - "Unassuming Cue Bids" is usually used (in US and UK) to refer to the cue bid when partner overcalls - it's "unassuming" because it does not assume support for partner's suit, as, in that situation, new suits are nonforcing and so the cue bid has to be made with a forcing strength hand even without support. Almost every good player in the US is now playing 2/1 - the few playing Standard American are playing a very sophisticated form. Commented Mar 28 at 17:05
  • It's rare that I think that I'm right and you're not, but in this case I beg to differ. Unassuming refers to the difference between a pre-emptive raise and a full-strength raise. Directly raising partner's suit is competitive; a sound raise is shown by cue bidding the opponent's suit. And that can be done regardless of whether partner opened or the opponents. SAYC and other forms of Standard American are still played in the US; as the OP didn't specify their bidding system, I felt that mentioning SAYC was ok. Really, as SO is global, any bidding system answer should be fine.
    – AlDante
    Commented Mar 28 at 19:14
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It was right, or at least alright, to lead the singleton, given that you elected to defend. But you should not have elected to defend.

Partner has at least 12-13 high card points and five hearts for her opening bid. You have 9 high card points and four hearts, giving the two of you slightly more than half the deck (probably), and nine hearts. Given your spade length, the opponents probably have eight, and there would be 17 total tricks under the law of total tricks.

With your preponderance of strength, you are favorites for nine tricks in hearts. The opponents can probably make eight tricks in spades. You should not give them the opportunity, and should shut them out. Even if it cost you down one, it would be worth it to prevent their part score (unless you were both doubled and vulnerable). You should force them up to three spades if they want to declare, because that's where you have a chance of beating them.

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  • I'm confused. Didn't you ask the original question?
    – AlDante
    Commented Mar 28 at 19:16
  • @AlDante: Yes I did. But in answering our own question on SE, we're supposed to pretend that we didn't.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Mar 29 at 3:32
  • But why did you ask the question if you already knew the answer?
    – AlDante
    Commented Mar 31 at 2:47
  • @AlDante: Because I figured out the answer after asking the question. SE encourages this by awarding a "self-learned badge for such answers that get three or more upvotes.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Mar 31 at 3:48
  • It just looks like you took the answers already given and repeated them in your own answer. Which doesn't seem sporting.
    – AlDante
    Commented Mar 31 at 16:20

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