Opening Leads

Your choice of opening lead can make a huge difference to your defence. There are some basic rules which can help you choose a lead but these should not be used automatically.

Think about what you know before you lead. Bids should always be visible until the lead is made so make sure to pay attention to what happened in the auction.

Leading Against a Suit


Priority 1 – If partner has bid a suit, lead that suit.

Priority 2 – Establish a sequence

Priority 3 – Lead a shortage

Priority 4 – Lead the unbid suit

If you are still stuck after going through this list then some more thought is going to be involved! For now let’s look at these steps in a bit more detail.

  1. Lead partners suit

If your partner has bid a suit you can never be blamed for leading that suit. It is important to note that this relies on your partner bidding reliably. This is one of the main reasons we insist on having 2 of the top honours for overcalls and pre-empts. If you overcall a suit and partner leads it you will have to hang your head if you can only offer 9 high.

2. Establish a sequence

If you have touching honours in your hand then you should lead the top one. This will act to drive out the larger cards and turn your smaller honour into a winner the next time that suit is played.

There are a couple of things to take note of if you lead top of a sequence. Keep an eye on dummy, if they show up with a shortage in your suit then you might not be able to establish your tricks.

You should be more attracted towards leading sequences if they are longer, as this will mean more potential tricks.

3. Lead a shortage

If you have a short suit (a singleton or doubleton) then leading that suit may provide a chance for an early trump. The chances of this working are fairly slim as you usually need partner to turn up with the ace in order to trump a trick before the opposition can get in and draw trumps.

4. Lead the unbid suit

If there is a suit that opposition has not bid then try leading that. There is a slightly higher chance that partner will have something in that suit.

Leading against No Trumps

Priority 1 – Lead partners suit

Priority 2 – Lead top of a sequence

Priority 3 – Fourth highest of your longest and strongest

Your first 2 options are the same as in Trumps. Note however that leading 4th highest is lowest priority; this should be a backup. If you are going to lead 4th highest remember that you must have a 5 card suit and a chance of getting back in control of the hand. There is no point in trying to set up tricks if you can never get on lead to win them!

Finally remember that many of these concerns will remain relevant as the hands go on. Each time you need to lead a new suit, think about what you know!