Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Underleading an Ace

So when do you underlead an Ace in a trump contract? The first rule you learn is: Never!

Here are some things that could go wrong:

* An opponent could win a trick with the King he would otherwise not get.
* Even if partner has the King, this might not gain a trick.
* Partner has the King and it would gain a trick, if only he knew to put it in. He expects declarer to have the Ace and will play accordingly!
* Partner has the Queen, the King is in dummy and declarer plays small and STILL it won't work, for example:

A875 Q94

On the lead of the 5, dummy plays the 3. Now East will correctly put in the 9!

This was just a short list of horrible things waiting to happen to someone who underleads an Ace. But... as always there are exceptions.

Against a slam with a void
(1♥) 2♠ (3♥) 3♠
(4NT*) Pass (5♣ - 1 KC) Pass
(6♥) All Pass

You're on lead with:
♠ AJT743
♥ 432
♦ 8432
♣ -

Now the correct lead is the ♠3! We are likely to make exactly 1 Spade trick (declarer is not void because of Blackwood) so a ruff seems like the only possible way to beat it. We must hope partner has the King and then returns a Club to beat the contract.

Their contract will likely make and declarer has no control in the suit

The opponents bid unopposed:
1♠ - 2♥ (GF)
3♥ (extras) - 4♦ (non-serious cuebid)
4♥ - Pass

Now if you know that they would cuebid a singleton in opener's suit you may consider leading a ♠ or ♣ away from Axx. This is safer than usual since partner will know you have the Ace, but declarer will not. The lead away from ♠A loses some of its attraction if declarer can have a singleton Spade though.

"But... as always there are exceptions"

The acronym that you need is BOCTAOE :)
I dunno. I kinda feel that that sort of rule is incredibly closed minded. P should not expect an ace underlead, but certainly should never rule one out. In a good partnership ace underlead situations should be discussed (and i'm not just talking about extreme situations like leading against some slams, etc.)
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