With nobody vulnerable (at matchpoints), I opened two spades (weak) as East. Partner, West, who had a big hand, raised me to six spades. (All other pairs stopped at four spades.) South doubled with ♠7 ♡KQJ9 ♢AQ95 ♣ JT84.

If one were playing South, it seems like the most logical way to defeat the contract was to lead the King of hearts, force out the ace, and hope to take a second round heart trick, followed by the ace of diamonds. A similar method (recommended by the club expert) would be to take the ace of diamonds first, followed by the king of hearts lead. South actually led the Jack of clubs, captured by dummy's ace, which allowed me to make the hand, because I had gained a valuable tempo to set up discards.

So was the king of hearts or the ace of diamonds the theoretically better opening lead, or didn't it matter? (Either would have worked as the cards lay.) Put another way, does South need to save his ace of diamonds as a potential entry to his hearts?

And should South have doubled at all? In his shoes, I would have felt lucky that the opponents overbid to six spades and not risked telling declarer where all the opposing strength lay. (North had nothing so East-West had the balance of the points.) If East had gone down, East would have gotten a "rounder bottom" instead of the "rounder top" but it would not have affected the matchpoints score.

  • 2
    What are your agreements on weak 2's? What investigative tools did West have at their disposal that they chose not to use? (What would 2N by West have meant? Did E-W have some ace-asking (or keycard-asking) bid available? Did West have a splinter available?) The point is that, if West is a good player, there is some reason they just bid 6S rather than investigate if partner had an appropriate hand, and I would definitely ask questions before choosing an opening lead. Commented Aug 14, 2023 at 7:54
  • @AlexanderWoo: There were no (operative) agreements in place. This partner bids using the "guess" method.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Aug 14, 2023 at 15:24

1 Answer 1


@Alexander Woo raises excellent questions, that should be asked before choosing a lead against good opponents - but I've seen you and partner around the club before, and won't bother. God gifted me the heart Jack; so lacking a second spade I will pass in tempo and place heart King (or Queen playing Lavinthal-ish leads) on the table.

Either this hand is cold; or West is hoping to steal a fast one on either a cross-ruff or a running second suit. Without a second spade (and one in partner's hand without an entry does no good), my only hope is to get my two red tricks before clubs set up.

  • 1
    OK, so no need to double and give out information. And South's best chances are in the red suits, hoping that "dummy" miscalculated by jumping to directly six. And South should avoid clubs at all costs, right?
    – Tom Au
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 15:57
  • @TomAu: Yes. Regardless of any specific agreements that may (or may not) be in use, opponents are taking a flyer based either on anticipated ruffs or running the club suit. I can only defend the latter, so I do. Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 0:07
  • Actually, Wests overbid may have been a miscalculation tat was less egregious than I originally thought. She had two weaknesses, a doubleton Ax of hearts, and only second round control of diamonds. Take away the low heart or upgrade the K of diamonds to the ace, and 6 spades would have been cold. As for South, leading out his big red cards on which he had doubled was "a chance against a certainty" (of loss with a club lead),
    – Tom Au
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 17:14

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