Being on lead against a grand slam is bad for your blood pressure. So much is at stake (not least, having to face the self-satisfaction of your opponents). Luckily, there is a rule of thumb which obviates the need to stress too much: always lead a trump. This is sensible advice: it’s normally the best or safest lead. But not always; especially not when the bidding is screaming out against it. And yet, at that giddy height, some players seem just too fearful to break the rule.
England international Brian Callaghan (‘Binky’) showed me this hand from a recent Tollemache match (the inter-county teams championships). Sit tight for the bidding!
East opened the bidding at the six-level. Binky, sitting South, countered with a brave 6♥. West lost no time in raising his partner to 7♣. And Brian’s partner, Heather Dhondy, rolled up her sleeves and bid 7♥. Who knew what was going on? However, when East pulled out a double card, West should have been on full alert. This was surely a ‘lightner’ double, announcing that he was void in a suit and could ruff. Looking at West’s hand, that suit was most likely spades — but even leading the ♦A and switching to a spade would have led to two tricks. However, West led a trump! Binky won, ruffed a club, crossed to the ♠A, ruffed another club, crossed to the ♠Q and ran his trumps. West was squeezed in spades and diamonds — contract made!