The Card To Lead From LONG Suits
From Better Bridge (9/3/14)

The basic approach to long suits (four or more cards) is to lead fourth-highest unless the suit contains an HONOUR and a SEQUENCE , when you lead top of the sequence.

Sequence Leads

Solid sequence = three touching cards. Lead top card from each of these holdings: K-Q-J-x   Q-J-10-x   J-lO-9-x   10-9-8-x

Near sequence = two touching cards, then a gap of just one card Lead top card from these holdings: K-Q-10-x   Q-J-9-x   J-lO-8-x   10-9-7-x

Interior sequence = honour card, then a gap, then another honour card and the card immediately below it. Lead top of the touching cards from these interior sequences: K-J-10-x   K-10-9-x   Q-10-9-x

Where the interior sequence suit contains the ace (A-Q-J-x, A-J-10-x or A-10-9-x), the interior lead (Q, J, 10) is made at no-trumps only. In a trump contract, avoid leading these suits if possible, but if you must lead such a suit, lead the ace.

The above leads apply whether the suit is three cards, four cards or longer.

Four Or More With No Sequence

From a 4-card or longer suit with no sequence lead, lead fourth-highest, except from four rags.

From Four Rags

It is best to restrict fourth-highest leads to show length (from a 5-card or longer suit) or strength (at least one honour card in the suit if it is a 4-card suit). With four rags, second-highest is recommended (similar to the M.U.D. lead from three rags). By so doing, you can deduce that partner's lead of the lowest card possible promises an honour (or is a singleton — but any card could be a singleton).

Leads Against No-Trumps Versus Leads Against Suit Contracts

The strategy will vary according to the contract, but once you have chosen the suit to lead, the card to lead against no-trumps is the same as the card to lead against a suit contract, with three exceptions:

  1. Suits headed by A-K (A-K-x-x or longer) Against no-trumps, lead fourth-highest Against suit contracts, lead the king (or ace).
  2. Suits headed by K-Q (K-Q-x-x or longer) Against no-trumps, lead fourth-highest. Against suit contracts, lead the king.
  3. Suits headed by the ace (A-x-x-x or longer) Against no-trumps, lead fourth-highest. Against suit contracts, lead the ace. However, this is not an attractive lead. Try to find some other suit for your opening lead

In no-trumps, you hope to set up the long cards in your suit. Your high cards will take tricks later anyway because it is no-trumps. In a suit contract, you aim to cash tricks. A shortage in dummy or in declarer's hand may mean you do not score your high cards if you lead a low one initially. For example:

J 7
AK532 98 4
Q10 6

In no-trumps, you lead fourth-highest and declarer wins the trick. If you or partner gain the lead later, you can cash four tricks in the suit. In a trump contract, cash the ace and king. You score two tricks and declarer one. If you lead low in a trump contract, declarer still has one trick, but you score only one trick instead of two as North can ruff the third round

Note also in the above layout the benefit of leading a low card in no-trumps rather than king, ace and another. If you lead a low card initially, it does not matter whether you gain the lead later or partner. In either case, you can cash four tricks. However, if you lead king, ace and another, you set up two extra winners, but now you must gain the lead. If partner has the lead later, partner has no cards left in the suit to return. Leading low initially will usually leave partner with a card to return to you.

Another reason to choose the low card from A-K-x-x-x in no trumps is this example:

AK432 Q7
J 10 8

If West leads low, East wins and returns the suit The defence cashes five tricks. If West leads the king or ace first, then a problem arises. A low card at trick 2 leaves East on lead and the suit is blocked. Cashing the second honour crashes East's queen and gives declarer an unnecessary trick.

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