Imelda Marcos said, “I get so tired listening to one million dollars here, one million dollars there; it’s so petty.” Today, I suppose it is a trillion dollars here and there.

At the bridge table, though, it pays to listen closely to the bidding and to analyze what it is telling you. Look at only the West hand and the auction in this deal. What should West lead against four spades?

When North jumped to four spades, he showed four trumps and opening strength. If South had had extra values, especially with 4-3-5-1 or, even better, 4-3- 6-0 distribution, he would have proceeded toward slam.

The club queen would be a popular lead choice. Then, declarer would most likely win on the board and play a diamond to, say, his jack. West will win and probably shift to a trump. South wins in the dummy and plays a second diamond. That also loses to West and another trump is returned, but declarer wins in his hand, ruffs a diamond, plays a heart to his king, and ruffs his last diamond. Then, though, South must be careful. He needs to get into his hand to draw West’s last trump, so should concede a club trick. A moment later, declarer ruffs a club, cashes his spade ace, and claims.

Yes, West could have defeated the contract after winning the first diamond by shifting to a heart, but who would ever find that play?

There is a much simpler solution for West. Because he is so strong in declarer’s first-bid suit, he should lead a trump at trick one. Then the defenders would be in control.

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