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Bridge 2/20
To lead well, listen closely
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    French film director Robert Bresson said, "Cinema, radio, television, magazines are a school of inattention: people look without seeing, listen in without hearing."
    But not bridge players! They listen in to their opponents' bids, interpret them correctly, and produce informed opening leads.
    Look at the West hand. What would you choose to start your campaign against four hearts?
    What has the opposition's auction told you? South showed five hearts and opening strength. North, when responding in the suit directly under his partner's, would normally have at least five diamonds. Also, because he bid at the two-level, he should have 11-plus points. South indicated diamond support. North jumped to four hearts, showing three trumps and game-going values.
    The opponents have eight or nine diamonds. This means that East has at most one. It must be best to try to give him a diamond ruff or two. Which diamond would you select, though?
    When you lead from a weak suit like West's diamonds, you normally start with top-of-nothing. But when you make a lead that you expect partner to ruff (on this round or, if your side has trump control, on the next), you should lead a suit-preference card. Here, you should lead the diamond two.
    The defense should go: diamond ruff, club to your queen, diamond ruff, club to your ace, diamond ruff for down two.
    Note that if East shifts to a spade at trick two, the contract cruises home.
    East should have doubled four hearts, asking for a diamond lead. He knew that if North ran to five diamonds, West would ruff an initial heart lead.
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