First choose the suit to lead. This decision is covered in Opening Leads In No-Trumps and Suit Contracts. After selecting the suit, you must play the correct card in the suit. No matter which system of leads you adopt, there is little scope for deviation from the correct systemic card. One function of the lead is to inform partner about your holding in the suit. To deviate will mislead partner.
DOUBLETONS: Lead the TOP card. The card to lead is underlined: A-5 K-J Q-7 8-3 3-2
TRIPLETONS (THREE-CARD SUITS)
Rule 1: With an HONOUR lead TOP of the Touching cards:
Otherwise without Touching cards lead the BOTTOM card. For example: K-8-2 Q-10-4 J-9-5 10-6-2
(Note) The 10, an honour, follows Rules 1 and 2. From A-x-x, lead the Ace in a suit contract, but the bottom card at no-trumps
Rule 2: With NO HONOUR, lead the MIDDLE card. Next round, play top of the remaining doubleton.
i.e.— 9-6-2 Lead the 6, play the 9 on the next round; 8-4-3: Lead the 4, play the 8 on the next round; 8-7-6 Lead the 7, play the 8 on the next round; 4-3-2 Lead the 3, play the 4 on the next round
This method known as Middle-Up-Down (M.U.D.) is the most popular method of leading from three cards with no honour card.
Variation: Top-of-nothing is now a discredited method of leading from rag holdings since partner is unable to distinguish doubletons from 3-card or longer holdings. However, if your bidding has shown length in a suit (eg. you raised partner's suit, thus promising 3-card or 4-card support), you may lead top from three or four rags. Since partner will not be misled about suit length (you cannot hold a shortage), the top card lead will deny any honour in the suit.
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