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Opening Leads

A big advantage for the defenders is that they get to play the first card by making the opening lead. The only negative about this is that they can’t see dummy first! 
It’s often difficult to find the right lead to beat a contract, but here are some guidelines if you’re wondering what to lead.
Decide first, which suit to lead, and then which card of that suit seems right. 
Nobody makes the lead right all the time, but thinking about the bidding and imagining what dummy might look like will help. 

Which suit?

  • If partner has bid, lead their suit unless you have a good reason not to
  • Can you lead the top of a sequence ♠QJ1052, lead ♠Q
  • Lead low from an honour in your longest suit ♥Q108, lead ♥8
  • Lead trumps if the bidding suggests declarer will cross ruff. You’re forcing declarer to play two trumps at once instead of one
  • Lead your long suit if you hold four or more trumps. It will often force declarer, and you might take control
  • With three small trumps, consider leading a short suit: a singleton or a doubleton, hoping for a ruff
  • Lead suits that have not been bid by the declaring side

Which card? If it’s your own suit, lead the

  • Top card of a sequence or a near sequence of three or more cards. From ♠KQJ52 or ♠KQ1054 lead ♠K in both no trumps and suits. However, with ♠KQ432 lead ♠K if defending a suit contract, or lead ♠4 if defending no trumps. Phew!
  • Top card of interior sequence, with ♠KJ1085 lead ♠J
  • Fourth best if no sequence, with ♠K8753 lead ♠5. Use the Rule of 11 if the lead is fourth highest, for evample if the ♠5 is led, subtract 5 from 11 = 6, to tell you there are 6 cards higher than the ♠5 in the other hands. This can guide the defence to knowing whether to continue or switch, and helps the defender in third seat know how high to play to the first trick.
  • Low from three cards to an honour, with ♠Q72 lead the ♠2
  • Top card of a doubleton, with ♠106 lead the ♠10
  • Don’t lead away from an Ace when defending a suit contract ♠A864. It’s better to lead another suit. In NT, lead 4th highest, with ♠A864 lead ♠4
  • With three small cards such as ♠973 lead low unless you have raised partner’s suit in the bidding, when the 9 would be more helpful.

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