Leading Against a Suit Contract

Always adhere to the standard leads!  These are promises to your partner of the cards you hold, just like opening a 5 card major.   It is necessary for defense’s communication.

Suit Contract Leads (Prioritized from ACBL)

  1. Decide what suits NOT to lead.
  2. Decide what suit to lead.
  3. Then decide which card to lead.
  4. Use your best judgement from the bidding.

SLAM Leads:

  • Lead passively against a grand slam contract
    • Lead with a trump – as passive as it gets
  • Lead aggressively against a small slam to gain a couple of tricks for the defense.
  • Ace in your partner’s suit.
    • When leading partner’s suit, use the standard leads guideline!!!
    • Lead low from an honor – H,x,x…
  • When holding 4+ trumps is a perfect situation for ‘Forcing the Game’ which is used to take control of the trump suit by having more trump than the declarer.  This is a better defence than leading a singleton for ruffing.
    • Lead a suit that will be trumped.  When you have more trump than declarer, take the lead after trump are pulled, and play out your long suit.
  • Prepare for ruffing:
    • Singleton (non-trump) partner is guaranteed to have some to lead back.  If your leading an honor card, your partner will know too that you don’t hold the next higher card (except King leads). This lead is so good that it overrules the guideline about not playing your opponent’s suit.
      • When NOT to play a singleton:
        • When you have 4+ trump in your hand.  See above.
    • Long suit (4+ cards) with your Opponent – partner will not have this suit.
  • Analyze bidding for potential cross-ruffing by declarer.  See leading a trump below.
    • Long suits with your opponent means opponents other hand will likely be short.
    • 4 trump in each of their hands is good for a cross ruff for them.
  • Highest card in your partner’s suit.  This communicates your hand and clears honor’s for them.
  • Lead top of at least a 2-card sequence from your strongest suitThis is an inexpensive play. 
    • In a trump contract and holding the Ace and King, plus more cards, lead the Ace.
    • If holding the Ace and King doubleton, lead King. 
    • TIP:  Response to this sequence, is to hold up and allow opponent to win the 1st trick, and win the 2nd trick and retain the lead.
  • Higher card of a doubleton.  Your partner will know that you don’t hold the next higher card.
  •  AVOID leading a suit headed by an Ace, with only one honor card, or honors with spaces.  Wait for this suit to be lead to you.
    • Lead instead low from an honor-less suit that your partner may have a winner in.
    • It is better to play the ace, than a lower card in this suit against a trump contract, if you must play this suit.
    • Leading an Ace will win you a trick, but also promotes the King and Queen into winners.
      • Lead an Ace: (Acceptable, but may not be effective)
        • When also holding the King
        • When holding the Ace in your partner’s suit
        • When it is a singleton side suit
  • Lead an unbid suit.   Lowest card from a 3-card suit without an 2-card honor sequence.
  • From a 4-card, broken holding suit, lead 4th best.
  • From 4 small cards, 2nd highest.
  • From 3 small cards lead bottom.
  • Lead a trump (prioritized)
    • Don’t lead trump when holding 4+ trump.  Play a long suit to force trumping, use trump late to take control of the game.
      • DO NOT lead a short suit.
    • Playing passively against a grand slam contract.
    • When all other side suits are headed by Aces.
    • When either you or your partner are very long and very strong in trump.  If your partner passes a takeout double, it could mean partner is very long and strong in opponent’s suit.       Exp:  1 > you double  > pass > partner passes > pass.  
    • Two suited contract as a defensive against cross-ruffing
  • Leading a long suit is generally a bad idea against a trump contract, unless your partner can over trump.
  • Leading a suit bid by the opponents is generally a bad idea.

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