Chinese Opening Leads (Le Bridgeur Magazine No. 913)

2017 World Vice-Champion Jérôme Rombaut writes a column in the French magazine “Le Bridgeur” every two months. The article below was published in issue 913 of the magazine (January/February 2018). These two deals are taken from IMSA Elite Mind Games.

IMSA Elite Mind Games

Article written by Jérôme Rombaut and published in the French magazine Le Bridgeur No. 913 (January/February 2018)

Following Lyon 2017 World Teams Championships, the top 3 teams (USA, France and Bulgaria) as well as the host country (China) have been invited to the IMSA Elite Mind Games in Huai’an, Eastern China. Go, bridge, draughts, chess and xiangqi (Chinese chess) were represented there. And the French have been particularly brilliant in all bridge events.

Here are two interesting opening lead problems seen during that week spent in China.

IMSA Elite Mind Games
Opening lead problem #1

Let’s start with a hand from the Pairs tournament.

You are West and hold: ♠K854 ♥K105 ♦J6 ♣A843.

South opens 1♥ in second seat and everyone passes. What is your lead?

Clearly, your partner and dummy have very few points and you have to find the most neutral lead. I chose to lead the 5 of Spades, but with not much conviction. Asked about the deal, Vanessa Réess and Marc Bompis made the same choice as me. Hervé Vinciguerra would have led the Jack of Diamonds and several international experts agreed with him. As for Cédric Lorenzini, he would have led the 4 of Clubs, pointing out that the risk of not taking a trick with the Ace of Clubs is limited compared to the risk of losing a trick with the King of Spades, and partner should have a specific holding for this lead to produce a trick. Thomas Bessis would have rather led the Ace of Clubs (same arguments but to avoid giving away the bare King).

To decide between us, we called on Alain Lévy who of course told us that he would have led… a trump (the 5 of Hearts). Bridge definitely has surprises in store!

IMSA Elite Mind Games
Opening lead problem #2

Here is a second opening lead problem from the last segment of the Teams final (Elite).

My hand: ♠QJ764 ♥‒ ♦J10 ♣K86542.

I make the opening lead after the following auction:

South West North East
Réss Dai Rombaut Yang

The choice is probably between Spades and Diamonds. But how to decide?

Here was my reasoning. Partner is supposed to be short in Spades. Moreover, intermediate cards are desperately needed in the suit. Therefore leading in that suit comes with risks. In a word, it seemed better to me to lead Diamonds.

On the deal, declarer had AK108 in Spades and the spade lead allowed him to establish a trick in that suit to discard a Diamond.

Spade lead: 4H doubled =, -12 IMPs. Diamond lead: 4H doubled -1, +2 IMPs.

Would you have made the right choice?


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