Updated: February 25, 2013 12:19PM
B. Cybrill wrote, “When the bold branches / Bid farewell to rainbow leaves / Welcome wool sweaters.”
Now, in the depth of winter, we can relate to that. At the bridge table, when we bid farewell to the auction, whether colorful or monochrome, we welcome hot leads.
Look at West’s hand. What should he lead against four spades after the given auction?
Note North’s one-diamond response. With a good hand, bid the longest suit first. Do not skip diamonds to show a major except with a weak hand (and only then if the major is particularly strong). Then, on the second round, North makes a splinter bid, indicating four-card spade support, at least game-going values, and a singleton or void in clubs. South, with so much in clubs and three low hearts, signs off in game. (If you do not use splinters, North should rebid four spades.)
West has two sensible lead choices: the diamond queen (top of touching honors) and the heart two (low from an honor). In general, leading an unbid suit works better than one in a suit bid by an opponent. Also, North rates to have at least five diamonds. With four diamonds and four spades, he might have responded one spade.
Here, the heart lead is necessary. East, knowing West has length and strength in the suit, wins the first trick with his jack, cashes the ace, and continues with a third round. Then he awaits the setting trick with his high trump.
After a diamond lead, South, aided by the club jack dropping, can win 12 tricks.