When a capable defender chooses a lead, he reviews the bidding, visualizes the dummy and tries to anticipate declarer’s play.

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On 25 August, 2013 At 14:22

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Source: 2005 ACBL Bulletins

The opening lead is the first step in the defenders’ campaign to defeat the contract or at Matchpoint scoring, to get all the tricks they’re due. When a capable defender chooses a lead, he reviews the bidding, visualizes the dummy and tries to anticipate declarer’s play.

The opening leader may try an aggressive lead from honors, hoping to cash or establish tricks in a hurry, or a passive lead, hoping to avoid helping declarer.

Try these opening lead problems and decide whether you would lead trumps as South. Assume matchpoint scoring. My solutions include a conjectural deal that shows how the lead I like might gain. Since opening leads are not an exact science, I could as easily present a deal in which my suggested lead is disastrous.

Lead a trump. West’s bidding shows a weak, shapely hand, so dummy’s only source of tricks will be ruffs.Only a trump lead and continuation defeat 3.

Lead a trump. Dummy will be weak and will almost surely have a singleton heart and a few clubs. Declarer has heart losers – you have good hearts – and be can dispose of them only by ruffing in dummy.

A trump opening lead holds East to just nine tricks – the best the defense can do.

This time you can see declarer won’t need to ruff spades in dummy: all his spades may be high. Prefer the normal sequential lead of the Q. You may start a successful forcing defense. To lead the A might cost a trump trick.The lead of the Q beats 2; the A lead lets East make it.

To lead a trump is clear when you have such good spades and dummy has advertised a limited hand with a probable singleton spade. To lead low from A- x- x is often correct to keep communication with partner for a second trump lead, but here you know North is unlikely to win 8 trick. Lead the A.

The A lead and a second heart beat the contract.

Trump leads appeal to experts more often than to less experienced defenders. A trump may give nothing away or may prevent declarer from scoring extra trump tricks.

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