Fletcher Knebel, who wrote political fiction and died in 1993, said, “Smoking is one of the leading causes of statistics.”

When you play bridge, keeping some statistics is not a bad idea. In a duplicate, for example, note how many times your opponents go down undoubled. If a lot, you are not doubling enough. When you are on opening lead, how often do you find the best start? You must treat this one carefully, because some “best opening leads” are effectively impossible to find.

Look only at the West hand. What would you lead against four spades?

On the second round of the auction, South might have rebid three hearts because North could have had three spades and five or even six hearts. But jumping to four spades gave less information to the defenders.

Leads fall into two categories: active (positively trying to win tricks) and passive (attempting not to give anything away and waiting for tricks to fall into the defenders’ laps). Here, the diamond two is the active lead; a black suit, passive; a heart, potentially suicidal! (Typically, a trump is passive, but can be active if it cuts down declarer’s ruffing power.)

Active leads work better than passive on most deals. It is often hard to recognize those deals on which one should go passive.

Here, the diamond deuce is the killing lead … as long as East does not think it is a singleton. If East takes the first trick and shifts to his singleton, the defenders can take one diamond, two hearts and a heart ruff.

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