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Making the correct lead is critical.
Making the correct lead is probably the most difficult play in the entire game of
In the next pages I’ll try to give you several rules to lead the correct lead. Those rules are based on experience, statistics and commonsense. It’s up to you to sit with your partner and agree upon those rules.
Remember that each lead made or not made is transmitting a message to your
partner containing important information. For example, always lead from AK. Which card to lead depends upon your conventions. If you don’t lead the A or the K your message is that you don’t have any AK combination.
Always ask yourself who will be on lead. If the auction suggests that you’ll be the
opening leader, you should usually pass. Announcing where your strength is will help declarer more than partner.
Most opening leads are relatively easy. If you’re on lead after the opponents bid 1NT-3NT, most of the time the standard fourth down from longest and strongest suit will work well. Also you have an obvious lead after partner has overcalled or when you hold a suit with a strong honor sequence.
In these situations where the choice isn’t so clear your playing experience may give you a good sense of what works and what doesn’t. You must learn the ability to listen to the auction and use the clues to visualize the hidden hands, to imagine the distributions of the hands.
Before playing the first card you must take your time in order to process all the
information and decide to make a passive or aggressive lead, to choose the suit and to choose the card.
Some auctions will tell you that it’s best to make a safe, passive opening lead that
isn’t likely to give declarer an extra trick. These leads are often from topless suits
such as 97542 or T982. On other deals, it will pay to make an aggressive lead, one that might give declarer a trick if partner has no help in the suit, but offers your best chance to beat the contract if partner has an honor or two. Aggressive leads are usually from suits with unprotected honors; for example low from Kxxx.
Which card to lead? There are several approaches in choosing the leading card – top of sequence honors, second touching honor, fourth best from a honor, top of a doubleton, don’t lead from a “tenace” (KJX); from 3 small use MUD or top or low.
Later you’ll find more about the subject.
Basically, there are 2 options to lead from touching honors – the top one or the second one. Always leading one honor promises the other honor; If the touching honors are doubletons inverse the lead.
Never under lead an A (Ax, Axx, Axxx) unless it’s the suit partner has bid.
Always lead partner’s bided suit. Lead the highest card in the suit.
If a partner doubles a suit – lead it.
If partner doubles the contract, lead his bided suit; if both of you have bided lead
your suit; if only you bid lead your suit; if none of you bided, lead dummy’s suit; if none of you and the dummy haven’t bided lead a unconventional lead; if you and dummy did bid and partner doubles, lead dummy’s suit; if you and dummy bid and you double you are asking your partner to lead dummy’s suit.
If you bid and is to partner lead – without double he’ll lead your suit, with double he’ll lead his suit.
If opponents bid suit refusing NT, lead a trump.
Without any specific information, lead through dummy’s strongest suit if he is on your left side and weakest one if he is sitting on your right side Without any specific information, lead declarer weakest suit if he sit on your right side and the strongest one if he sits on your left side.
When in doubt about what to lead, lead the fourth-best card in your longest suit.
Leading from length is the standard lead to a notrump contract, and it’s often the
safest lead to a suit contract.
A safe lead may also be an attacking combination, such as a suit headed by AK, KQJ or QJT, these are usually good choices for a lead to any contract. If you aren’t dealt these easy holdings, you’ll sometimes have to select a passive lead.
As a rule, the lower the level of their artificial bid, the stronger the suit you need to double.
A double of a Stayman 2C or a transfer bid should promise 5+ cards and at least
three of the top five honors — a suit such as ♣KQTxx .
A double of a Blackwood response or high-level cuebid doesn’t require a long or
strong suit. It shows the ace or king and a reason to believe that suit is the best
A double of a shortness bid should usually be a suit headed by the Ace-King. You may want to consider playing “two-way” doubles of splinter bids: If you’re vulnerable, double is lead-directing (usually headed by Ace-King); If you’re not vulnerable, double shows 6+ cards and suggests a possible sacrifice. If the opponents cue-bid a suit you’ve bid naturally, be cautious about doubling just
for a lead. Partner will usually lead your suit anyway, so use double to describe
something extra. Many players like to use this double to send the message “Good
hand, good suit”.
If you’ve already shown 5+ cards (by opening 1H or 1S or making an overcall), a
double of their cuebid shows a good suit with extra length and extra values. It
encourages partner to compete.
If you’ve opened 1C or 1D, a double of their cue-bid of your suit shows a good 6+ card suit (or a very strong 5-card suit) and extra values.
Another option is to agree that a double says “Don’t lead my suit”.
Again, in IMP scoring events beware from trying for a swing with an unusual opening lead. In the long run, it’s usually best to make your “normal” lead the same one you think will be make by the rest of the field. Save your brilliant defensive plays for later in the hand, when you have more information.
In match-point scoring events make normal opening leads. Don’t try for a “top” by choosing an unusual lead. Against most contracts, choose a safe, non-deceptive opening lead.
Selecting the suit considerations are:
Good suits to lead may be: a suit partner has bid; a suit not bid by declarer’s side; a suit bid by declarer’s partner
Against a suit contract: a short suit lead may be good, but only when it is likely that partner will be able to obtain the lead and return the suit; but leading a suit
containing an ace may be bad
Against NT contracts: leading a long suit may be good; leading a suit in which partner could have length may be good
Choosing an aggressive or safe lead is important: defeating some contracts calls for aggressive leads, while others call for safe leads.