Eddie Kantar

Bridge Tips - Leading



1 When partner doubles the final contract, partner either:
  (1)  Thinks that the combined defensive strength between the two defensive hands is enough to defeat the contract.
  (2)  Has a strong trump holding.
  (3)  Can tell from the bidding that it is a touch and go contract and that YOU have trump length.  This  double is an effort to give declarer a false impression of who has the missing trumps. These are called "offside" doubles and require a special relationship with partner when they don't work.
  (4)  Is trying to direct your lead to a particular suit, a suit you might not otherwise have led. These 'lead directing doubles' particularly apply vs. slam contracts when partner has preempted or against notrump game or slam contracts that usually call for the lead of dummy's first bid suit.
2 When partner makes a penalty double against a trump contract, assume partner is short in your long suit. Penalty doubles work best when the doubling side is misfitted.


3 If partner has bid a suit and later doubles a VOLUNTARILY bid slam, do NOT lead partner's suit (the normal lead) and do NOT lead a trump.  Partner's double shows either:
  (1)  A void (the most common reason).
  (2)  A desire for a lead in dummy's first bid suit.
  (3)  The AK of one of the declarer's bid suits.

If partner has NOT bid and later doubles a VOLUNTARILY bid slam, do not lead the unbid suit, the normal lead, or a trump.

Partner's double shows either:

  (1)  A side suit void
  (2)  A desire for the lead in dummy's first bid suit.


4 If dummy makes a wild leap to slam in partner's suit (no Blackwood), assume a void, strong trump, a powerful side suit, and perhaps a control in the shorter side suit.  It is usually right to lead the shorter side suit if you can figure out which it is.
  North      East       South       West (you)
1H            Pass        1S              2C
6S !!

You hold S. A4    H. Q5    D. J64    C. AQJ952

Dummy figures to have a club void with a long hearts. Lead a diamond and hope to build up a trick in that suit before your SA is removed. If the CA would have cashed and you lose it, I don't know you.


5 With a terribly weak hand and having supported parner's suit with Qxx(x) or Kxx(x), lead the honor in case you need to switch to another suit. If you lead low, you may never get in again.
6 With the ace and any length, lead the ace unless you feel you must get partner in at once to: (1) give you a ruff;  (2) the dummy has bid notrump and you think dummy has the king.   Underleads of aces when they don't work out require a very special relationship with partner.
7 With 10xx, Jxx, or Qxx lead low.  However if dummy has bid notrump, lead the high honor.
8 With three or four small, lead low if you have NOT supported; lead high if you have.
9 If you have led high from xxx, play your middle card next.  If you have led high from xxxx, play your lowest card next.  If you have led low from xxx, play your highest card next.  If you have led low from xxxx, play your lowest remaining card next.  In each case you are giving partner present count.
10 Leading a suit partner has overcalled is USUALLY safer than leading a suit partner has opened.  However, if the bidding has indicated that partner has made a light third hand opening, tend to lead partner's suit.  The main reason for opening light in third seat is to attract the lead.


11 The card you select as your opening lead is probably the most important card you are going to play during the entire defense.  Therefore, you should give it a little thought.  Your focus should be on the likely distribution around the table (easier when there is mucho bidding), declarer's likely strength and the degree of trump fit that the bidding seems to indicate.

Of major concern is whether you should be making an aggressive or a passive opening lead.  Again you must go back to the bidding to help you out. 

  • Does the dummy figure to have a long side suit?  
  • If there is a long side suit, how is it breaking?  If it appearss to be breaking evenly, make an attacking lead. If you have it well under control, a trump lead is usually best. Why?  Because when dummy has a long suit it also has a short suit. Since the long suit cannot be established, declarer will try to use dummy's trumps for ruffing.  Each trump you lead is one less loser that declarer can trump.
  • Should I be looking for a ruff?   Lead a short suit, particularly with a trump holdings that look like  Kxx, Ax (x), but not with QJx or J10xx where ruffing costs you a natural trump trick.
  • Should I be looking to give partner a ruff?   This can work out well if you have a quick rump entry facing a partner who is marked with shortness in a side suit.
  • Should I be trying to shorten the declarer's trump holding?  This is usually a good idea when holding four trumps. If delcarer has five trumps, say, and you can make declarer twice, you will have more trumps than declarer.  This is good news for you and bad news, very bad news, for declarer.  
  • Should I just be sitting back and waiting for  my tricks rather than attacking here, there, and everywhere?  This is what you do against a balanced dummy where declarer cannot set up a long suit and will eventually lose any slow losers they have. Avoid breaking new suits unless it is safe to do so.
  • Should I be leading a trump to cut down on ruffs in the dummy?   Declarer has bid two suits, winds up in the second suit, and you have length and strength in the first suit. This is a good time to lead a trump.
  • Has partner passed a low level takeout double?  A trump lead is quasi- mandatory in this case. Partner must have a very strong trump holding to pass a low level takeout double. You should be looking to draw declarer's trumps so he can't make his little ones by ruffing.


12 Don't even think of leading a trump when the opponents are in the throes of a misfit.
13 Holding a balanced hand with broken strength in each suit, a trump lead from two or three small when dummy has given a single raise is usually best.
14 With a strong sequence in trump (KQJ, QJ109), a trump lead is usually best.
15 If partner is marked with a singleton trump, there is no point in leading a trump from Kxx because neither of you will be able to continue the suit.   Try another lead and hope that partner will find the trump switch, if necessary.

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