Saturday, November 5, 2016

If it's worth bidding, it's worth leading

I've always thought what a silly old adage is "If it's worth bidding, it's worth leading." It's usually said when someone has made a bid, doesn't have any more obvious lead, and resorts to leading their own suit. Not very profound!

But, playing at a casual, that's to say torture, table recently, I suffered the following indignity: 2NTXW= for -690 and a loss of 12 IMPs.

Dealer: W
Vul: Both
♠ KT9763
♥ K5
♦ T93
♣ KT
♠ QJ4
♥ J7
♦ Q842
♣ A987
♠ 5
♥ AQ986
♦ KJ75
♣ J52
♠ A82
♥ T432
♦ A6
♣ Q643

p p 1H p
1N 2S p p
2N p p X
p p p
HTML Bridge Hand Layout Creator

My so-called partner apparently doesn't believe in getting in and out early in the auction. A 2S call by North would get the hand off the chest so to speak and make life really difficult for the opponents. And, 2S is unassailable whereas any higher contract by the opponents, except for 3D, is doomed. A contract of 3D requires East to double rather than bid 3H over the 2S, but that never happened at any of the tables where North started with 2S.

As you can see, a spade lead ("if it's worth bidding, it's worth leading") would have set the contract easily. But even with partner's DT lead which resulted in the premature knocking out of my DA (at trick 2), we were still destined to set the contract. If only partner hadn't grabbed the second spade after I played SA and 8.

So, should North have simply followed the old saw and led a spade? No, not at all. He should have listened to the bidding. I had not acted over 1H so either I had the wrong shape for a takeout double, or I simply wasn't strong enough to act. But now, after partner comes in with the enormously dangerous bid of 2S (which I passed), West bids a very inadvisable 2N. I double this and partner is on lead. I have no game ambitions therefore, so I don't have a strong off-shape hand that couldn't double. And, I certainly don't have a suit of my own. On what could I be basing my expectation of defeating 2NT? It must be a good fit for spades (with an honor) plus probably another entry.

There is another possibility. The opponents could be complete idiots and therefore it doesn't matter too much what North leads. 2N has no chance of making. But why assume this. No, although it's clear that West is a novice (you can't bid 1NT and then 2NT) but there's no reason to assume some kind of death wish. No, there's every reason to assume they have at least as many points as we do, and yet South (me) is sure of defeating the contract.

No, all inferences should tell North that 1) it matters what he leads and 2) the only sensible lead is the suit that he's promised. The failure to heed these rather obvious inferences cost him (and me) 17 IMPs.