There are however three important differences between the two sides.
Two important and often counteracting dynamics spring into play when you make the lead to a trick in contract bridge :
Your left hand Opponent must play next to the trick and before your Partner (the 3rd player) does.
Therefore the 2nd player can not hurt him, but the 4th player can.
Take the following example.
The opening lead can be very crucial and in many cases make or break Declarer's contract. It is also the most tricky lead to make for the Defence because the Dummy hand is not yet on the table, and Defenders have had of course no opportunity to signal to each other.
The opening leader must therefore rely on the preceding auction and on the cards in his own hand. Based on this he can make three types of leads
Make an attacking lead when
When your Partner has not bid, you have no long strong suit to lead and hold a hand with a sprinkling of isolated Honours and/or tenaces it is best to make a defensive lead.
Always remember, when the Honours of a suit are divided amongst the four players, the side that leads that suit usually gives away an unnecessary trick to their Opponents.
For a defensive lead always lead a small card of
Aces should be used to capture an Honour of the Opponents, not just for making a trick. Kings and Queens, whenever possible, should have that same task.
A trump lead is the best attacking lead when the auction has revealed that Declarer is likely to depend on ruffs in Dummy to make his contract.
In such case lead
Also this is an opportunity to try to force Declarer to ruff himself. Keep leading your longest suit (like in a NT contract). If Declarer is forced to ruff twice you have more trumps than he has and you will gain control of the game.
A lead of the Diamond Queen, followed by the Jack forces Declarer to ruff in his own hand. He can only afford to lead trumps 3 times before trying to develop the Club suit.
You win the first Club trick with the Ace, then lead the 10 of Diamonds. Declarer is forced to ruff again, and you now have the only trump left in the game. The contract is doomed.
Any other opening lead (including a trump lead) will present Declarer his contract on a platter.
A listing of the correct card to lead is included in the Bidding Guide BG-14
Some Definitions :
Leading Partner's suit
When Partner has overcalled a suit and it is your turn to lead it is generally best to lead your Honour card in his suit, if you have one. This avoids blocking the suit. It also provides Partner with a clear picture of the combined strength of the suit and helps him to decide whether to pursue with the suit or not. The Underlead
Partner has a small Heart, Dummy plays low. Which card do you lead ? When Partner leads a low card of a suit in which you hold touching Honours or a solid sequence : play the lower card of touching Honours. This leaves Declarer in the dark as to who holds the other Honour(s), and at the same time shows Partner that you might have the higher Honour too.
Therefore if in Case c. (above) the King wins the trick, lead your Jack back to Partner at the next trick.
A Defender can make a card signal when he is not required to compete for a trick, or when he is void in a suit and can discard a card from an other suit. An unnecessary high card, followed (if possible) by a low card on Partner's lead or as a discard is encouraging (a "high - low" signal). Playing a low card first is discouraging. For example:
A discard works in the same way.
When you are void in the suit lead discard a relatively high card of the suit you wish Partner to lead to you. If you don't want that suit lead to you, play a low card.
In case a. if Dummy plays low play your King. If Dummy plays the Ace, play your 8, showing Partner you have an Honour.
In case b. if Dummy plays low, play your Queen. If Dummy plays the Ace, play your Queen too, to unblock the suit for Partner. He may have a 5 card suit.
Rule - As Defender always play the lower card from touching Honours, except when making a lead.
In case a. if Dummy plays the Queen, cover it with your King. If Dummy plays low, play your Jack.
In case b. if Dummy plays the Queen, cover it with your King. If Dummy plays low, play your 10 (the lower card of touching Honours).
In case a. if Dummy plays the Queen, cover it with your King.
If Dummy plays low, play your 9.
In case b. if Dummy plays the Queen, cover it with your King.
If Dummy plays low, play your King.
Rule - When Dummy has an Honour which you as third hand can beat, only play your Honour if Dummy's Honour is played or if your next card is lower than the 9
If Dummy plays the Ace, play your 8, showing Partner you hold an Honour.
In case b. if Dummy plays low, play your King.
If Dummy plays the Ace, unblock the suit by playing your King. When Partner leads his long suit and you hold one or two Honours but only one small card in the suit, unblock your access to Partner's hand by playing your High cards first, keeping your small card to lead back to him for last.
Other techniques, including the duck (lesson 17) and the hold up (lesson 18) are common to both Declarer play and a good Defence.
Here follow a few examples.
1. The Defensive Duck
Declarer is in a Spade contract and your Partner leads the 9 of Diamonds. Dummy plays low.
What do you play ?
Partner most likely leads the top of a doubleton and is hoping for a ruff in the suit. Should you play your Ace and then return a small Diamond ? No!
If you do that next time Partner gains the lead he has no Diamond left to lead back to you.
Therefore duck the first round, but play the 7 showing Partner he should lead the suit again. Next time you or Partner gains the lead (hopefully before Declarer has drawn all Partner's trumps), either one can lead a Diamond again. Win this second trick with your Ace, then lead a third Diamond for Partner to ruff. Here another example. Declarer is in a No Trump contract this time.
You lead 4th from the top of your longest suit, Spades. Dummy plays low and Partner wins with the King. Partner at trick 2 leads a small Spade. Declarer plays low, what do you do? Don't play your Ace, but duck, play a small Spade and let Dummy win with the Jack.
When Partner regains the lead he has still a Spade left to return to you, Declarer's Queen will drop under your Ace and you are on lead to cash two more Heart winners.
(Down - Up)/div> 2. The Defensive Hold Up
Declarer is in a 2 Spade contract and you make a defensive opening lead with a small trump.
Declarer draws three rounds of trumps then leads a small Club. What do you play ?
Hold up and play low the first round. Dummy wins the trick with the King then leads his Queen.
If your Partner has played high-low on the first two Club tricks (showing a doubleton), you must hold up once more (as Declarer must have three Clubs) and play your Ace only on the third round of Clubs.
Declarer's Clubs are now exhausted and he has no way to lead to Dummy's established Club winners. 3. Knocking out Dummy's Entry(s)
Declarer is in a 4 Spade contract. You this time make an aggressive opening lead with the King of Diamonds, top of touching Honours.
Dummy plays low and you win the first trick. What do you play next ?
Almost the same scenario as the case above. However this time Dummy has a side entry.
Therefore at trick 2 lead your Diamond Queen in order to knock out Dummy's Ace. If Dummy holds up again, play Diamonds a third time which leaves him nothing left but to play his Ace.
After Declarer draws trumps he will again lead the Clubs. Hold up as in the case above until you are sure all Declarer's Clubs have been exhausted.
Deals 73 to 76 are examples of play as outlined in this lesson.
BR 21.10 - Quiz 21 - Answers - Review