Letter to the Editor of the ACBL Bulletin
4 May 2006
In 1974 Eddie Kantar published Defensive Bridge Play Complete (ISBN: 0879802871). Although Kantar later republished much of the material in this early book in two more modern volumes, Defensive Bridge Play Complete remains 30 years on still perhaps the most comprehensive text on defensive play.
In his 1974 book Kantar recomends the opening lead of the Ace from AKx, noting that Europeans had been doing this for some years. Kantar may not have been the first American expert to recommend the lead of the Ace from AKx, but his voice was the most influential, and over the years, as Bob Rehbock notes in his letter to the editor in the ACBL Bulletin April 2006 issue, the majority of club players have now come round to his recommendation.
Perhaps because he took it for granted, since experts rarely do it, Kantar failed to mention in his 1974 advice that the opening lead of the Ace from AKx only makes sense provided that unsupported Aces are uncommon opening leads. Unfortunately, as we all know too well, club players frequently lead out unsupported Aces, which results in the current indeterminacy in the opening lead of an Ace.
Until the majority of players stop leading out unsupported Aces, we hope that the ACBL continues to keep the lead of the King from either AKx or KQx as standard, as the lead of the King in both cases at least tells partner you have either the Ace above it or the Queen below it. Leading the Ace is currently highly ambiguous unless you and your partner have agreed not to open lead unsupported Aces except on the rarest of occasions.