Underleading aces at the kickoff against a suit contract has, through the years, boomeranged too often to be among the most favored opening leads. Occasionally, however, a surprise attack of this kind will be successful, especially if the dummy hand has bid no trump or taken some other action suggesting possession of the king in the suit under consideration.

But, if underleading the ace is a rarity, underleading both the ace and king of a suit should rank as a museum piece. With an uneasy feeling that I am about to cause the more daring among my readers to lose thousands of points, let me recount a deal in which West produced this rare gambit with spectacular success. I don't dare publish it without warning that such drastic treatment should be used only in a dire emergency.

North's choice of a two-no-trump response was good despite his four cards in partner's spade suit. Technically he was one point short of the prescribed requirements, but the even distribution of his hand argued for the short road to game.

South cheerfully accepted the no-trump contract for which his hand, too, was well suited. Then North had a sudden change of heart and proceeded to four spades—a bit of judgment of doubtful soundness. With balanced distribution and all suits stopped, distinct preference should be given to a no-trump contract, even though holding four of partner's suit.

With an ear closely tuned to the bidding, West concluded that prospects for defeating the contract on straightforward play were not bright. East could hardly be expected to produce two tricks to augment West's ace and king of hearts, especially with the queen of hearts most apt to turn up in dummy to provide North's stopper in that suit as advertised by the two-no-trump bid.

Drastic measures appeared to be required—and the most drastic thing West could conjure up was the lead of the low heart!

Declarer played dummy's 9 in the hope that West had led from the jack or the king-jack. This appears to be the proper play, though in this case hardly the winning one. Much to his surprise, East won the trick with the jack, and West's lead had gained one of the needed tricks. From what followed, it gained another!

East returned a heart, and West cashed the ace and king. Declarer was now wide open for an uppercut, and West put his partner into position to deliver it by returning the fourth heart. East trumped this trick with the 10 of spades. South was forced to overruff with the queen, establishing West's twice-guarded jack as the setting trick.

West's spectacular underlead had gained not just one trick but two!

EXTRA TRICK

Holding four cards in partner's major suit, look for some bid other than a raise when you hold nothing as good as the queen or the jack-10 in the suit, or when you have 4-3-3-3 distribution. In the responder's hand, that distribution is a flaw that demands a deduction of one point from the value of the dummy.

Each of the flaws was present in North's hand and, with the aid of West's unusual lead, each cost a trick. The combination was responsible for the loss of a game that would have been easy at no trump.

PHOTO

North-South vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

[8 of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[Queen of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubs]
[King of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]
[King of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]

WEST

[Jack of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[King of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[10 of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[9 of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]

SOUTH

[Ace of Spades]
[King of Spades]
[Queen of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[7 of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Queen of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]

EAST

[10 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[Jack of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[9 of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[8 of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]

SOUTH

1 [Spade]
3 N.T.
PASS

WEST

PASS
PASS
PASS

NORTH

2 N.T.
4 [Spade]

EAST

PASS
PASS

Opening lead: heart three

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)