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Singleton trump lead

Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 6:12 pm
by John McLeod
In one hand of last Sunday's tournament, Mittelhand was the declarer with clubs as trumps and I was Hinterhand. My partner in Vorhand led the 7 of trumps, which turned out to be a singleton. I can't think of any hand on which I would make this lead, but some people have asserted that such leads are common in championship games, and if that is so I suppose I am missing something.

Can anyone give an example of a deal on which a singleton trump would be Vorhand's best lead against a trump contract in Mittelhand? It could be a deal from a tournament, from a book (if you know one that recommends this) or from some other Skat forum, or you may like to try to construct such a hand. I am eager to find out in what circumstances such a lead might be successful.

Re: Singleton trump lead

Posted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 10:44 pm
by Mike Tobias
This thread on the ISS forum talks about trump leads in the last post

https://skatgame.net/forum/viewtopic.ph ... 00968d16e9

Partial quote:
Leads and what they mean.
"The famous trumph lead
I seem to be playing this one more and more.Just because its a fairly new concept that seems to work well.
there are 3 reasons I lead trump I have one and hope my partner has 4/5
or I have 5 and want to tell my partner I have a lot of trump so don't schnibble/finnesse and save some full ones for me.
or I iam really strong on all side suits and want to win this game on sides.
Again information is the key to skat.and with a little ying and yang theory behind it a good player will figure out what a good lead means.
A great lead is one where it tells your partner a lot and makes the player have to guess.
Now leading trump into the player does this just about everytime because it is a fairly new concept.
Iam the player and you just lead a trump,best ones are little ones or little jacks,but I have often lead the ace or 10 of trump.
I now have to decide do you have 1, 5,or great side suits.But your partner will know as soon as the card hits the table,acording to his cards if he only has 1 trump he knows you have 5,if he has 4/5 trump he knows your blank,and with 2/3 trump he can determine that you have great sides or the player is playing a 7 trumper and only has 3 bad side cards.the germans like this lead too ,as their method of trump counting works here very well.
as the player I can not tell on the first card lead what your plan was until your partner plays and reacts."

Re: Singleton trump lead

Posted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 2:14 pm
by Mike Tobias
MAJOR FRUSTRATION
Playing against two of the ISS computer programs, I get this contract unopposed in MH:
J. CSD
C. KQ
S. AK8
H. T8
D. Q8

Spent a bit of time thinking: considered a 5 trumper. but settled for the dreaded 6222 split, put away the Clubs and played Spades.

FH led trump 9.. Great! A hand to look at for this thread, but I spent too long thinking about it and timed out after winning the trick with JD.

FH's holding was:
Tr. HJ.9
C. A87
H. KQ7
D. K9

As it turned out, with the cards split the way they were, I would have won against any lead by drawing trumps from the top: the side suits were split evenly, and I could have lost two tricks in both for 56pts, so the trump lead from a doubleton won by confusing declarer :o)

So what's the reasoning for that lead?

Re: Singleton trump lead

Posted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 2:47 pm
by John McLeod
Looks crazy to me. Isn't FH just helping declarer to draw trumps? I would have thought that lead might easily cost the contract if declarer has 5 trumps and the other opponent has 4. You say you were playing against a computer, so there's no guarantee that it's a sensible lead or had any comprehensible motive.

On the hand that originally prompted my question my trumps were SJ, HJ, 9. Partner led the 7, declarer played the 8 and I won with the 9. From your first post, I see that I am meant to conclude that declarer has the remaining 7 trumps and that my partner has lots of aces and tens. Is that right? So we are going to make one trump trick for 15 points (J-J-A) and at most three other tricks, so I have to find a way to get at least 45 points on those tricks.

So what should I do next? The problem is that I really don't want the lead. Unfortunately it wasn't a duplicate to we can't find out what the hands were. I suppose if I have a suit headed by A-10 I should definitely lead its ace now as it can't cost anything. Failing that it's not clear. Maybe lead an unsupported ace? From a long suit or a short suit? Ideas and examples welcome.

Re: Singleton trump lead

Posted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 7:46 pm
by Mike Tobias
there are 3 reasons I lead trump I have one and hope my partner has 4/5
That's the one I'd infer; unfortunately I only have 3, not 4 or 5. I don't assume FH has lots of Aces and 10s. but as the weak trump defender, any she does have are for smearing or winning tricks led by declarer; it's my job as the defender with the stronger (but sadly not strong enough) trumps to put my big ones down to win tricks or be trumped and weaken declarer's holding. As you say, I do know from the start, if my inference is right, that we get one trump trick and at most three others, and have to try and get 60pts from those. You're right about leading an Ace, it doesn't matter if it's trumped, declarer can't be allowed to throw off for free, but whether to lead long or short,I'm not sure. With declarer's holding, would any other lead from FH have been any better?

Re. the computer, there would definitely have been a reason for the lead. There are 5 programs on the server: one poor, one average and three seriously good. Out of 616 players, their ELO rankings are currently 11th, 12th and 13th, and there are some very good players on there. Maybe that's the 4th reason to lead a trump: "Bugger all else to do". What else do you lead from
Tr. HJ.9
C. A87
H. KQ7
D. K9
where any lead can be wrong? You want to lead long, but if the Ace is trumped, bad. if you lead low and it's declarer's void in a 631 holding, bad. I'd have probably played HK[ I wouldn't have led the trump, but maybe it's the least of all possible evils.

Re: Singleton trump lead

Posted: Sat Feb 14, 2015 1:22 pm
by John McLeod
I think I would have led a heart, not wanting to open up the clubs since that's my only ace and I don't know how I want to use it yet. As the cards lay it didn't matter, but suppose I swap a few cards. I'll give your jack of clubs and ten of hearts to Hinterhand in exchange for the seven of spades and ace of hearts. So now after picking up the skat you have
J. SD
C. KQ
S. AK87
H. A8
D. Q8
I think the bidding and the contract will be the same - Hinterhand can't reasonably bid over your 18 so has to pass. But your contract can be defeated now. The only opening leads that make it safe for you are a trump or the ace of clubs (if you throw away the KQ of clubs as before).
On a small trump lead you can just make the natural play of the jack of diamonds to stop HH winning with the 10. If HH ducks you can lead your spade jack next. If VH were to start with the HJ you would cover it with the SJ. Either way the trump lead costs the defence a trick.

I have tried a few different deals and I have yet to find one consistent with this bidding on which the trump lead works best - unless the aim really is to surprise the declarer into losing on time! Any suggestions?

Re: Singleton trump lead

Posted: Tue Feb 17, 2015 2:48 pm
by Mike Tobias
John McLeod wrote:Any suggestions?
None whatever, I think HK is a reasonable lead. I can't see the point of leading from the doubleton.