The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part XLIII: Killing Leads
By Ray Adams
Perhaps the single most difficult play in duplicate bridge is the opening lead. It is not only an opportunity for the defense to get off to a good start, it also can be a time of trauma should the beginning salvo present the opponents with their contract. One of the reasons for Team Porcupine’s success is their ability to come up with the so-called “killing” lead time and time again.
The bidding was the same at both tables as seen in the diagram above. Against Nograwowicz, West chose the heart king, which appears to be a sound lead against a high level contract. Nograwowicz soon made quick work of the play. He won the ace of hearts, drew trumps and conceded a heart and a spade for plus 400 to Team Porcupine. The East player smiled, saying, “Undoubtedly, no swing on this board.”
However, at the other table, Pas took a long time choosing his lead. It was quite obvious that Konejwicz had a lot of spades and declarer had a lot of diamonds. Pas also had a lot of clubs, along with the hope that he could get a spade ruff if only he could get to partner’s hand. He considered leading the queen of hearts, which would induce Konejwicz to take the ace if he held it, and he almost put this card on the table, then he thought again. He decided from the auction that Konejwicz would be more likely to hold no clubs than the ace of hearts and he placed the jack of clubs on the table.
Pas had indeed found the killing lead. Konejwicz ruffed this and returned the king of spades. Declarer played the ace, but Pas ruffed and now switched to the king of hearts. After this start by the defense, there was no way declarer could avoid going down two. It was plus 100 for Team Porcupine and that meant the team had picked up 11 big imps on this board. Once again, Team Porcupine had killed the contract and won the match.