Bridge column, January 23: Is it the deal for high or for low?
In "Star Trek: The Next Generation," Commander Deanna Troi said, "Higher emotions are what separate us from the lower orders of life. Higher emotions ... and table manners."
This week we are looking at defenders leading high or low cards from various holdings. The general principle is to lead low from length when you have at least one honor in that suit. With no honor, you lead an unnecessarily high card. But, as I mentioned yesterday, the most common exception occurs when you lead partner's suit. Then, if you have not supported that suit, giving length information is more important than strength information.
In this example, what should West lead against two spades when he has or has not raised hearts?
Should West bid two hearts? It is a borderline decision. The pluses are showing support and some values, and perhaps making North's rebid more awkward. The minuses are the scant values and the lack of a heart honor; if North becomes the declarer, East might make a losing heart lead.
If West has not supported hearts, he should lead the three: low from length. But if he has raised, he should start with the nine: top of nothing.
Moving on, how can East-West defeat two spades?
The defenders must take two hearts, two diamonds and two clubs. And this requires getting the diamond tricks established before South can discard a diamond from the dummy on his heart jack.
East should win the first trick and shift to the diamond queen, which is easier to find when West has raised hearts and led the nine to deny an honor.
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