Leads to Kill

from the Venice Cup Qualifying Rounds

Shanghai 2007

by Richard Winter

The cut and thrust of the World Championship continues into the 2nd week in Shanghai with England taking a berth in the
Quarter Finals against China the hosts. On the last day of the qualifier England Ladies needed a good win against the
current World champions and Venice Cup holders France to secure a place in the last 8.
What do you lead as West against this bidding with NS vulnerable?

Dealer South, N/S Vul

S  W  N  E 
Pass  2H*  3D  3H 

* Weak

You hold
SJ4, HAJ10532, D654, CQ5

With an identical auction in the other room, Silvie Willard as West chose to lead her 4th highest heart against Nicola Smith and Heather Dhondy (London and England). Can this be criticized?

Sarah Teshome (Bradford, Yorkshire and England) took a different view. Her thought processes were: "I know South (Daniele Allouche-Gaviard) must have the heart king as the bid of 3NT is too much of a gamble without it on a passed hand.
I donít want to let a thin contract make on the opening lead. I know there are a likely six diamonds in the North (Catherine d'Ovidioís) hand. If I lead a heart this may set up the 9th trick or allow declarer to cash 9 tricks in diamonds and outside winners. Where are the spades? Perhaps my partner (Catherine Jagger) has them, as there is no sign of them with South."
Who was right?

SQ 9
DA K Q J 9 2
C9 7 6 2
SJ 4SA K 10 7 3 
HA J 10 5 3 2HQ 9 7
D6 5 4D10 7 3
CQ 5C10 8
S8 6 5 2
HK 8 4
CA K J 4 3

Nicola Smith wrapped up 12 tricks +690 for England N/S.

Look what happened on the lead of a spade. Catherine Jagger cashed her 3 spades winners and continued with a well-judged heart Queen for England to cash the first 9 tricks. So far so good. On to the quarter finals and best of luck! The England Ladies' team also includes the well-known champions Michelle Brunner and Rhona Goldenfield of Manchester.

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