George Meredith, an English poet and novelist who died in 1909, said, “Don’t just count your years, make your years count.”

For bridge players, don’t just count your cards, make your cards count – and sometimes give count, as in today’s deal.

What should West lead against four spades?

Note South’s immediate jump to four spades. He needs only the diamond ace in the dummy to have 10 top tricks; or, if partner has another ace, declarer can enter the dummy and lead a diamond toward his king, through the opening bidder; a slam is unlikely opposite a passed partner (although I would make the same bid even if partner had not had a chance to act); and this intervention might inconvenience responder, who does not require much to bid after a one-spade overcall, but needs a good hand at the five-level.

Typically, a low lead from length guarantees at least one honor in that suit. The exception is when leading partner’s unsupported suit. Then, giving length information is more important than strength information.

Here, West should lead the club two – low from length.

East wins with his nine and cashes the club ace, seeing his partner go up the line. Knowing that South is now out of clubs, East shifts to the diamond three, giving the defenders the first four tricks.

Note that if West had led the club seven, top of nothing, East would have assumed it was from a doubleton and tried to cash a third club trick. Then, though, South would have collected an overtrick, not an undertrick.

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