What do you lead?

by Chris Jagger

The purpose of this article will be to discuss some interesting lead problems, but let us start by summarising some advice on what to lead, surely one of the hardest parts of the game. There are two pieces of advice that are often given. The first is to lead your longest strongest suit, and this is generally good advice even against suit contracts. The second is "When in doubt, lead trumps". This would be better advice if it were "When in doubt, don't lead trumps". That is, only lead trumps if there seems to be some reason to do so.

Combined with these tips, generally one should like to lead from very strong holdings, such as AK, KQJ, KQ10, QJ10, and be more wary of unsupported honours, though a ten does wonders to a suit. For example, Q10xx is a nice suit to lead from because generally one honour in the suit from partner will probably lead to this being a successful lead, whereas with Qxxx it will often be a disaster unless partner has two honours.

Of course, ultimately, one has to listen to the auction, and that is what we shall do now. Have a go at the following hands. In each case the auction ends with three passes and you are on lead. Then look here. The answers given are not necessarily right, but form a consensus view of some of the top county players.

1. s765 hQ7542 dA87 cAJ. P-1c-P-1s, P-4s.
2. sA862 h65 dAQJ105 c102. 1h, P-2NT-P-3h, P-4c-P-4h.
The 2NT bid was Baron (showing 16+ balanced), and 4c was a cuebid.
3. sA5 hK1065 d8542 cAK3. 1c, P-1h-P-1s, P-2c.
4. sA10852 h1042 dA108 c87. 1h, P-2c-P-2d, P-3h-P-4h.
5. sJ10 hKJ3 d7532 c10983. P-1d-P-1s, P-4c-X-4s, P-5c-X-P, P-5d-P-5s, P-6s.
The 4c bid was showing a singleton or void.