Today’s deal is from the Gymkhana Club monthly open pair event. It is held each month, on the last Wednesday and is a very popular venue for the bridge players in Chennai. More than hundred players participate every time, because of the club's excellent hospitality and the playing ambience.

Sitting west and as dealer, you open 1N (15-17) with S A-9-5 H A-Q-9-2 D K-T-6 C Q-7-5. You are pitted against a very strong pair, your LHO being K.R. Venkataraman, the highest ranked player in the country and your RHO, L.Ravichandran, one of the best players in Chennai. North overcalls 2D, alerted as majors. After a pass by east, south jumps to 3S and north bids game.

Now that you have chosen your lead, let me tell you what happened at the other tables. Most defenders in the west seat selected a small spade as their opening lead and dummy hit:

Contract: 4S by south. West led S5

How the play went: Declarer won the opening lead with the king in hand, cashed CK, and successfully finessed the CJ next. Discarding a heart on the CA, declarer ruffed a heart in hand. He cashed the DA, pitching a club from dummy. He ruffed a diamond and ruffed a second heart. Ruffing one more diamond, declarer played a third heart and ruffed with his last trump, to arrive at the ending below:

He scored a trick for the SQ ‘en passant’, by playing a diamond from hand now.

Ten tricks on the trot and eleventh ‘in passing’! The complete hands were:

Correct lead: When you have no sure entry, it is one hundred percent correct to lead a small trump with ace-third. You expect partner to gain the lead and play his second trump so that a third round can be played after cashing your trump ace. It is unlikely here that partner will ever get in. If anyone has an entry, it is you.

So, to prevent the cross-ruff, you should begin by leading the trump ace. It is easy to continue with another trump here, after looking at the dummy.

Play continues... Declarer wins the second spade with the king in hand and plays a heart towards dummy. You win the heart ace and continue with a third trump, restricting him to ten tricks. We won the board, but they won the event! Tell me honestly, did you find the lead?

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