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Mountnessing Bridge Club


Bid like Andrew Robson, lead like Zia Mahmood...



Hand played on 

December 16th 2007 - The Tony Kelvin Trophy [ECBA event]  Teams of Four

Board number

2 - first half 




NS Vulnerable

Submitted by

Alaric Cundy





























































As defending champions, partner and I had a generally very disappointing time in this event this year, finishing well down the field.  However, my partner - playing the West hand - provided one of those 'star turn' moments that will long remain in our memories.


South's 1 opening will be routine on most bidding styles.  My partner is a great fan of Andrew Robson, and Andrew Robson advises that you should get your major suit into the bidding whenever you can, especially at favourable vulnerability, so on that basis the 1 overcall becomes routine, as does North's 1 and my own pass.  South's 3NT bid was described as 'a running diamond suit with a heart stop'.  So, armed with that information, what would you choose to lead from the West hand?


As Declarer acknowledged afterwards, this contract should be made on any defence, but what killing lead would you find to help to direct Declarer towards a losing line?  Remember, we are talking about the lead at the table, not as a Double-Dummy problem!


Let's run through the options:

  • A spade lead gives Declarer two spade tricks and time to establish three winners in hearts, to add to the six diamonds and the club, yielding 12 tricks in total

  • The 'obvious' heart lead is much the same, though possibly the second spade trick will be missed, so in practice 11 tricks are likely

  • A diamond lead again gives Declarer a tempo advantage, and again 11 or 12 tricks will materialise

  • If West chooses a small club lead, Declarer will run it round to the queen, and again he will wrap up an easy 11 or 12 tricks.

As well as holding admiration for Andrew Robson's bidding tactics, partner also reveres Zia Mahmood's flamboyant playing style.  In practice partner found a lead that even Zia would have been proud of - the King of clubs!  He had reasoned that knowing that Declarer had lots of diamond tricks to enjoy, he had to find an unexpected lead if there was to be any hope of beating this contract.  


Declarer was a thoughtful, top-flight player and he asked me to confirm our lead styles: I explained that we played 'King for count' and the lead of the King would normally be from a suit headed by either Ace / King, or King / Queen.  From Declarer's perspective, the most obvious explanation for this lead was that it was in fact the top of a doubleton - which would put me as East with a 6-card suit.  That reasoning suggested that it would be safe to take the first trick in Dummy.  Surveying the scene, Declarer noted 8 top tricks, with several opportunities for more.  He could have tried the spade finesse, but partner's 1 overcall made it very likely that would fail.  Instead, if he attempted to sneak a heart trick and if West ducked, he could cash out for nine tricks, or if West took the heart and fired back his other club, then all he would have to do would be to duck the club in Dummy, and then Dummy's ten would stop the defence running the suit.  So Declarer took the first trick in Dummy, and played the King of hearts.  West was fully alert, and took the trick and as expected, he led back his 'other' club, which, critically for the Defence, turned out to be the 7.  That was ducked all round.  Then it was followed by the 5 of clubs, and the rest is memorable history as we happily recorded +100 on the board.


In the other room, West passed and North became Declarer in the same contract.  East made the natural lead of the fourth highest club, but now it was easy for Declarer simply to hold off on the clubs twice, and when the Ace of hearts turned up in the right hand, a total of ten tricks were accrued.


I hope that Andrew Robson and Zia Mahmood both take note of their devotee's achievements!