Leading a Trick

You and your partner are a team, and must play to the strength of each other’s hand against your opponents. Good defense uses the standard lead guidelines against all tricks, not just the first one.

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.

Leading a trick:

Listen to the bidding.  

  • What is your partner’s suit?
    • Lead the highest card in your partner’s suit, unless you have a very good reason not to.
    • Play to your partner’s short suit for trumping.
  • How many points does your partner have?
    • If the opponents are in game – Rule of 14 
      • Total points 40 minus 26 points for game =14 points for the opposition.
      • 14 points minus the points in your hand = your partner’s points.
      • 2-level contract = 20 points
      • 3-level contract = 23 points
      • 4-level contract = 26 points
      • 6-level contract = 33 points
  • What suits do your opponents have / don’t have?
    • If they’re bidding NT, then they are short in the major suits. 
    • If they bid Stayman – partner will have your short minor
    • Don’t lead an opponent’s suit.
  • Which opponent has the points?
    • Use info for finessing.
  • Partner doubles an artificial bid
    • This is lead directing,
  • Partner doubles opponent
    • Play opponents suit bid prior to a NT bid

Lead to dummy’s suit when unsupported by declarer.

Lead Ace; With Ace+King doubleton;  with partner agreement

Lead top of a doubleton.

Lead to the top of a 3-card honor sequence.

  • Tip:  Response to a sequence play:  Allow opponent to take the first trick, take the second to break the sequence and the lead.

In suits with interior sequences:

  • Lead 2nd highest card

3-Card Suits:

  • Lead the top of a 3-card suit with 2 touching honors.
  • Lead the bottom of a 3-card broken suit headed by an honor.
    • Under-leading an honor is not recommended.  It is better to lead passively in this situation.

Did the dummy duck when an honor card is available?

  • Play your honor card, even when it will be beaten by declarer.  
    • This will remove barriers for your partner’s other cards in their long suit.
    • Keep playing your partnership’s long suit.

If the dummy is weak try to remove reentry:

  • Consider forcing the trump to be played. 
  • Good for long suited dummy hands

Conversely, if you are declarer, don’t replay your opponent’s leading suit unless you are planning to lose the trick.  By leading that suit, it is either 1) they’re best suit; or 2) a trump-able suit.

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