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The Lead Against A Suit Declaration

Against a suit declaration, the original lead of the longest suit is
not in the least imperative. Strength is far more important than
length. As the tables show, many high-card combinations are opened very
differently, the theory being to win with honors, not to establish
small cards. If the leader be a Whist-player, he must remember that
Auction is a very different game. The Trump has not been selected by
chance, but has been named because of his adversaries' great length and
strength. The establishment of an adverse suit against a Trump
declaration is, therefore, an almost unknown proceeding.

The object of the leader against a suit declaration is to get as many
tricks as possible, and he should utilize the two best methods for so
doing: namely, winning with his own and his partner's high cards, and
ruffing with weak Trumps.

He should avoid opening a tenace suit, regardless of its length. A
singleton, if he be short in Trumps, is probably his best lead; his
second choice should be high cards in sequence. When his hand does not
contain either of these advantageous openings, he should try his
partner's suit.

It goes without saying that if the leader have both the Ace and King of
a suit, it is always well to lead the King, not only for the purpose of
giving information and taking a practically assured trick, but also in
order to obtain a look at the Dummy, which will enable him to more
advantageously size up the entire situation.

When his partner has not shown strength, the leader need never hesitate
about starting with a strengthening card of a short suit which has not
been declared. He is also thoroughly justified, if weak in Trumps, in
asking for a force by leading the top of a two-card suit. This, while
not nearly so desirable an opening as a singleton, is better than
leading from a tenace. When the leader is long in Trumps, he should
open his own or his partner's strength.

The leader should bear in mind as a vital principal that, against a
suit declaration, a suit containing an Ace should never be opened
originally, unless the Ace (or King, if that card be also held) be led.
The leader should observe this convention, regardless of the length of
the suit. The knowledge that a leader can be relied upon not to have
the Ace unless he lead it will be of material assistance to his partner
in the play. It is sometimes very tempting to lead low with an Ace,
hoping that a King may be found in the Second Hand, and that the
partner's Queen may capture the first trick. This play will
occasionally prove successful, but in the long run, it is a
trick-loser, there being so many instances of singletons, even of
single Kings, and also of two-card suits, where, unless the Ace be led,
the Declarer will win the first trick and discard the other card.

The leader must observe the distinction between opening a long and a
short suit which has always been in force in Whist, Bridge, and
Auction--that is, when leading a suit headed by a Knave or smaller
card, if long, open from the bottom; if short, from the top. For
example, holding Knave, 9, 7, 2, the 2 should be led, but holding
Knave, 7, 2, the Knave is the card to open.

One other conventional lead should be mentioned, which, as an original
opening, is advisable against a Trump declaration only. It is the lead
of a two-card suit consisting of Ace, King. The Ace first, and then
King, signifies no more of the suit, and a desire to ruff. Of course,
by analogy, the lead of the King before the Ace shows more of the suit.

Next: How To Lead To A Double

Previous: Number-showing Leads

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