Have you ever wished that you (or your partner) had led a trump as declarer merrily ruffs away your winners in dummy or goes on a cross ruff spree? You may have heard the adage “when in doubt lead a trump”. I don’t necessarily subscribe to this view. It may be better expressed as “when there are no other satisfactory leads (as covered in my last tip) then a trump lead may be the least likely to give away a trick. This is particularly the case if the opposition have bid the suit strongly.
So what are the conditions which indicate that a trump lead is the right play?
1. Where you or your partner has doubled the contract for penalties then a trump lead should be seriously considered to cut down possible ruffs in dummy. Some experts say it is mandatory to lead a trump in this situation.
2. Where the opposition bidding has stuttered to the final contract.
e.g. 1♥, 2♥, 3♥, pass or 4♥. This bidding indicates that declarer may need ruffs in dummy in order to make the contract.
3. Where you hold a strong holding in declarers second suit.
4. Where you are aware that your side has a good share of the points, either through your own holding or your side has been active in the bidding. Say the bidding went
1♥, P(you), 2♥, Dbl by partner, P, 2♠ (you), 3♥ by opponents passed out. Again declarer will probably need ruffs to make the contract.
5. When your trump holding is such e.g. xxx, that the lead will not likely kill an honour partner may hold. If you hold some length in trumps then partner will be short and even if they do hold an honour it will likely fall or be finessed out.
6. When there is no other lead that is not likely to give a trick away.
There are situations where it is not advisable to lead a trump.
· Where you hold a singleton, particularly an honour, unless the contract is doubled.
· Where you hold Qx(x) or Jx(x). If partner has a holding Jx(x) or Qx(x) then your side must make a trump trick if declarer first leads trumps. If you first lead trumps then you will not likely make a trump trick. Again, if partner has doubled the contract try a trump.
· Where you have length in trumps, at least four, look to lead a long suit of your own or partners long suit to try and get declarer to ruff and so shorten their trumps. You are looking to get declarer to lose trump control.
What to lead if you happen to hold Axx in trumps and you have decided that trumps should be led? If you hold a strong holding in declarer’s second suit lead the Ace and another and, when next on lead, lead the third trump. Otherwise lead a small one and hope that you will get the opportunity to play Ace and another later.