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underleading aces underleading sideaces in def. of trumpcontracts

#1 User is offline   carl3 

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Posted 2019-February-03, 03:54

I have always thought that underleading sideaces in defence of trump-
contracts is to be avoided. But now a good player says it is both common
and often a good play. Not quite believing this I asked two other good
players but they both confirmed MY view. So what is right? Note that I
do not talk about the opening lead, there all three experts agree it is bad
to underlead a sideace.
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#2 User is offline   wank 

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Posted 2019-February-03, 05:35

View Postcarl3, on 2019-February-03, 03:54, said:

I have always thought that underleading sideaces in defence of trump-
contracts is to be avoided. But now a good player says it is both common
and often a good play. Not quite believing this I asked two other good
players but they both confirmed MY view. So what is right? Note that I
do not talk about the opening lead, there all three experts agree it is bad
to underlead a sideace.


good players do it in a targeted manner, so i wouldn't call it very 'common' at all.
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#3 User is offline   Tramticket 

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Posted 2019-February-03, 05:39

View Postcarl3, on 2019-February-03, 03:54, said:

a good player says it is both common and often a good play.


They are rare, but sometimes a good play.

You need to listen to the bidding and try to build up a picture of the opposing hands. Underleading an ace can work if (a) You know that opponents aren't short (you don't want to underlead an ace and have it ruffed on the second round!) and (b) you know that declared is unlikely to hold the king. If dummy has the king and partner the queen you give declared a difficult decision at trick 1.

Another useful time to underlead an ace is if you know that partner is likely to hold a doubleton and you have a high trump - you can play to give partner a third-round ruff.

It is also a possibility if you have a void in another suit and want to get partner in 1uickly to give you a ruff.
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#4 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2019-February-03, 06:07

Are we talking opening lead or later ? It's VERY rare on the opening lead, more common later.
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#5 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2019-February-03, 09:22

A common situation is when dummy has the K and either has the Jack as well or there is some chance that declarer has it. If there is a risk that declarer can pitch losers in that suit, or we are endplayed into breaking that suit, we can try the underlead, hoping partner has the Queen and declarer plays low from dummy. However, this is so well known that, unless I think the defender has been endplayed I will usually play a decent but not true expert to have made the underlead and will fly King if I have, say, Jx in my hand. Obviously with say Kxx opposite Jxx one will usually duck.

Another common scenario is when one is sitting in front of declarer and is leading through him with nothing more than the Jack, or less, in dummy.

Whether and when one does this sort of thing is very dependent on the specific hand.

A less common situation, which I have seen, is when one has, say, Axxx. I had this once with dummy having Qxxx, defending a major suit game. I made a neutral lead, declarer drive out my trump winner and prospects looked bleak. There was room for no more than a king in partnerís hand. The only chance was that he held Kx in that suit. So I led small, he won the king, returned the suit and ruffed the third round. Iíve done that once in 45 years of bridge, which will tell you that, for me, itís not common, lol.

As for opening lead. Iíve underled an ace twice, both times against slam when the auction marked the king on my left. At imps, not matchpoints
'one of the great markers of the advance of human kindness is the howls you will hear from the Men of God' Johann Hari
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#6 User is offline   rmnka447 

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Posted 2019-February-03, 13:43

Yep, I agree that sometimes in defense it can be right to underlead an A. Most previous posters have listed the most common times when you can do that.

What I want to focus on is HOW you underlead the A.

Say you are defending a contract and KJ is in dummy behind your Axx. Further, you recognize the probable only way to beat the contract is to have declarer misguess the lay of the cards in the suit. Then if you want to underlead the A, you must do so in normal tempo without flinching or hesitation, but also without undue speed or snapping of the card. This is very much akin to making a smooth duck in tempo if declarer had led a small card toward the KJ. It is a skill that is essential to good defense. Larry Cohen spent a whole chapter in his book Tricks of the Trade discussing ducking in tempo as an essential skill.
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