To Suit Contracts:
You usually want to make a "safe" opening lead that
will set up tricks for your side without giving declarer extra
tricks. Your general order of preference can be:
- A singleton (hoping partner can lead the suit back for you
- A suit partner has bid. Lead low
if you have 3+ cards; lead high from 2 cards.
- A suit that offers a good attacking combination -- two or
more touching honors (KQ10x, QJ10, AKxx, J109).
- Your longest suit. Lead low if you don't have
- A suit the opponents have not bid.
- If there are no unbid suits, choose a suit that dummy
- Lead trumps if you have no other safe lead OR
if declarer has shown a two-suited hand. This may prevent declarer
from using dummy's trumps separately.
When leading to a suit contract, AVOID:
- Leading an unsupported ace if you have another safe lead.
- Underleading an ace (don't lead a small card from a suit headed
by the ace).
- Underleading broken honor combinations (KJxx, Q10x) unless
it's in partner's suit.
- Leading a suit declarer has bid (unless you're leading trumps).
To Notrump Contracts:
You usually want to make an attacking opening lead to set up tricks
in your long suit. Lead the fourth-best card (count down
from the top) from your longest and strongest suit unless:
- Partner has bid a suit. You should then lead his suit.
- Your long suit is one the opponents have bid. You should choose
your longest unbid suit or a suit dummy has bid.
- Your long suit has three or more touching honors (KQJx, QJ10x,
AQJ10x, J109x, etc.). You should lead an honor to be sure you
force declarer to win with the highest card possible.
When leading to a notrump contract, AVOID:
- Leading a short suit, unless it's the suit partner has bid.
- Leading aces or "unprotected" high cards, especially
ones in your short suits.
- Leading a suit declarer has bid.
- From all AK combinations, lead the King.
- From all other suits with touching honors, lead the top
honor: KQ5 J109
- From a 4-card-or-longer suit without touching honors, lead
the fourth-best card: K9743 10752
- From a 3-card suit without touching honors, lead the lowest card:
- From a 2-card suit, lead the top card:
82 J7 Q10
AT THE TABLE
The opponents have bid 1S-3S-4S. What is your opening lead?
- King of Diamonds. Lead the top card from
an attacking combination. Even if declarer has the ace, you'll
set up tricks you can take later. Don't lead the club ace-that's
more likely to set up tricks for declarer.
- 4 of Clubs. When no other lead looks safe,
lead from your longest suit (the 4th card down). Declarer may
be short in this suit, so your lead is unlikely to help him.
Your LHO opens 1C, partner overcalls 1S and RHO bids 2H.
LHO jumps to 4H. What is your lead?
- 2 of spades. You should almost always lead
the suit partner overcalls (with 3 or more, lead low). Although
a KQ is sometimes a good attacking combination, it isn't here
because you know clubs is LHO's suit.
- King of Spades. Since partner has shown strength
in spades, leading an unprotected honor is safe. If your king
holds the trick, you'll lead the spade 4 to partner's ace and
be able to trump the third round. From your high-low leads, partner
will know you have only 2 spades.
- 4 of Diamonds. This is an exception to the
rule about leading partner's suit. Partner will know you had a
good reason for not leading spades. If he has the diamond ace,
he'll lead one back for you to trump. If partner can't win the
first diamond lead, you'll have another chance later. When you
win the ace of trumps, you can try to get partner on lead with
The opponents have bid 1NT-3NT. What is your opening lead?
- Queen of Spades. You should plan to keep
attacking spades whenever you're on lead. Even if declarer has
the AK, there's a good chance you can set up and "run"
your suit later.
- 4 of Clubs. You have no sequence, so lead
the 4th best card and hope partner has fillers. Resist the temptation
to cash the spades. You'll need them as entries to run your club
- Ten of Diamonds. Lead your longer suit, even
though the clubs are stronger. To force out an honor, lead the
top of an "interior" sequence.
Partner opens 1C, RHO bids 1H, you bid 1S. LHO bids 2H
and all pass. What is your opening lead?
- 3 of Hearts. You could lead a club (partner's
suit), but a trump is better for two reasons: (1)
It's safe (partner didn't promise great honor strength in clubs,
and a spade or diamond could give up a trick); (2) Your
side has most of the high-cards, so declarer may have to trump
losers in dummy to make his contract. A trump lead will take one
of his trumps out of dummy right away.
- King of Spades. An AK is usually a good lead
because it lets you look at dummy and decide what to do next.
Here, you're hoping partner has only only one or two spades (a
good possibility, since he didn't raise) and can trump the third
round. Depending on dummy's spade holding and partner's signal
(he'll play a high card if he has a doubleton, a low card if he
has three), you can decide whether to continue with the spade
ace or to switch suits. If you decide to switch to partner's suit
(clubs), lead the 10 (the top card to show 2). If partner has
the AK of clubs, you may get to trump the third round of that
Copyright © Karen Walker