It’s usually unwise to lead an unprotected ace, even if you’ve bid the suit and partner has raised it. You might be setting up an opponent’s king. Trudy Ulmer understood this and made an unusual killing lead at my expense in the weekly 2 p.m. duplicate game at Howes House next to the West Tisbury Library on June 20.

She was sitting West and dealing, with both sides vulnerable:

                        ♠️ K Q 10 3
                        ♥️ A K J 9
                        ♦️ 10 9
                        ♣️ A J 10

WEST (Ulmer)                         EAST
♠️ 6 5                                      ♠️ A 7
♥️ 10 8 5                                 ♥️ 7 6 4
♦️ A Q J 7 6 3                         ♦️ 8 4 2
♣️ K 7                                     ♣️ Q 6 5 4 2

                        SOUTH (Me)
                       ♠️ J 9 8 4 2
                       ♥️ Q 3 2
                       ♦️ K 5
                       ♣️ 9 8 3

The bidding proceeded as follows:

West            North          East          South
2♦️•           DBL            3♦️          3♠️
Pass            4♠️            All Pass
• Pre-emptive
Opening lead: ♣️7!

I looked at Dummy and one word came to mind: “Gulp.”

My goose was already cooked. If I played low, East would win the trick and switch to a  killing diamond. One club, one spade and two diamond losers later, I would be down one. If I went up with the ace, I thought I might have two club losers and be down two.

So I played low with the ♣️10, East won with the ♣️Q and switched to a diamond. You know the rest.
A passive trump lead by West would have worked as well. The important point is to avoid diamonds. What would have happened if Ulmer had led the♦️A, as plenty of Wests would have? I’d have lost just a diamond, a spade and a club, making the contract. Thanks to her heads-up lead, Ulmer and partner Tillie Foster finished first for the afternoon.