Direct the opening lead during

the auction

George Rosenkranz ( Mexico )

GEORGE ROSENKRANZ has been the leading Mexican player over the last thirty years. Born in 1916, he is a chemist by profession and has made significant contributions to scientific knowledge in the field of the birth control pill. He has represented Mexico in world championships since 1962 and represented North America in the Bermuda Bowl of 1983 where his team reached the semi-finals. He plays much of his bridge in the USA where he has won just about every national title there is. He is a well-known bridge theorist and writer, particularly in the field of bidding. His best known contribution to bidding theory is the invention of the Romex System.


For all sad words of tongue or pen,

The saddest are these: 'It might have been!' Maud Muller, Barbara Frietchie

THE fate of many contracts hinges upon the opening lead. Strolling through the playing area at a major bridge tournament, you pick up fragments of conversations, such as: 'If only you had led a...' or 'Sorry, partner, I made the wrong lead, but...' or 'How could I tell that a ... lead would beat the contract?'

Yet, did you ever examine your conscience after a catastrophic lead by your partner? Did you ever wonder whether some of the blame was yours, not all his? Had you done your best to steer him away from the lurking perils and to guide him on to the road to success?


HERE is an example which will eloquently illustrate the point I am trying to make. It occurred in a Swiss Teams.

Sitting East with North-South only vulnerable, I held:

  ♠ K J 10 6 4 2

   4 3 2

  A Q 2

   ♣ 5


The bidding proceeded:





3            4♠            4NT1           ?

1Roman Key Card Blackwood

 Reflecting upon North's bidding, I decided that if he were good enough to use  Blackwood, he must possess heart support and first- or second-round controls in all side suits This seemed to mark him with the king of diamonds, so I made the lead-directing bid of Five Diamonds, hoping there would be two tricks to take in that suit.

South elected, maybe erroneously, to bid Five Spades, showing two key cards and the queen of trumps in their methods. This resulted in a final contract of Six Hearts,.

My partner obliged by leading a diamond, and these were the four hands:



East Dealer





N-S Game

 K 9 8 6





 K 10 9





 A Q J 8 7









Q 7 5 3



K J 10 6 4 2



W                         E

 4 3 2

 6 5 4 3



 A Q 2

 10 9 4 3












A 8





 A Q J 10 7





 J 8 7





 K 6 2





Grateful for partner's lead, I cashed two diamond tricks for one down.

At the other table, the bidding was less imaginative:  














All Pass



In the absence of other information, the opening lead was the three of spades, and our team-mates scored their vulnerable slam, two losing diamonds being discarded on dummy's clubs. +1430 gave us a swing of 17 IMPs.


The moral of this story can be summed up in my BOLS bridge tip:  

Wherever possible, direct
the opening lead during the auction.  

Instead of complaining about bad luck or your partner's leads, be aware of the opportunities to put in a lead-directing overcall in order to steer partner on to the right road needed for successful defence. You will be amazed how your scores will improve and your partnership confidence will soar to imposing levels.