Tip #13 - Leads Other Than Opening Leads

Leads Other than Opening Leads

At a recent session West commented at the end of the hand that she didn’t know what to lead when she gained the lead part way through the hand. Needless to say that what she did lead gave a benefit to our side. What surprised me was that she had not heard of one of Bridge’s simple mantras – lead through strength and up to weakness. Another saying is – when in doubt lead a trump. As is usual with these simplifications, they have their place but there are exceptions to the rule.

I have covered opening leads in a previous article and of course many of the principles outlined then apply for leads part way through play of the hand. However the difference is that you have more information part way through the hand. Dummy can be seen and there is information available from play to the previous tricks.

If there is no clear-cut lead, such as top of a strong sequence or returning a suit led by partner then you need to consider what is the safest lead that you can make. The simple mantras may assist in this decision. As an example, with spades as trumps.


                         ♠ 9 8
 W                 E      
Q 10 5
                         ♦ A 9 4
                         ♣ 7 5 4

In either case of North or South on lead and have a holding something like KQ(J or 10) in either Clubs or Diamonds then it may pay to lead the King in order to set up tricks.

The next aspects to consider are, have North or South bid anything during the auction, or are there any indications from the play to that point, eg partners opening lead or signals that indicate a safe lead? For example if North had led the Q Diamonds, promising the J and 10, then it would be reasonably safe for South to lead a Diamond back.

When there is no clear cut course of action then consider the “leading through strength and up to weakness principle”. In this case North would consider leading a Diamond and South a Club. However be aware of any information gained through the auction and play. For example, if West had also bid Diamond’s during the auction then leading a Diamond may not be helpful.

So, still in doubt, then lead a trump. Reasonably safe from S, but N will need to be satisfied they are not killing a holding S may have.

A trump is often a good lead when cutting down ruffing potential in dummy. It is a lead that I have observed is not used as often as it should be.

Good bridging and may all your finesses be successful.