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Opening Lead - Choosing the best opening lead requires careful consideration of bidding, holdings, and other relevant factors.  Also see Passive Lead, Trump LeadNotrump Game Doubled, Lightner Double, Fisher Double, Journalist, Active Defense, Forcing Defense, CardingFourth Best or Third and Fifth leads, Coded 9 and 10 (Jack denies, 10 implies), Obvious Suit Preference, and Middle Up Down (MUD), Bottom Of Something Top Of Nothing (BOSTON).

Contract and Duplicate Bridge video training lessons on Opening Leads - Incredible Defense:

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More Video Lessons -Leads against Notrump Contracts: 
   Broken Suit Leads - Day 4, Part 1a     Part 1b  

   More Leads Against Notrump - Day 5

More Video Lessons - Leads Against Suit Contracts:
   Introduction to Leads Against Suit Contracts - Day 1
  
Active Leads Against Suit Contracts - Day 2
   Passive Leads Against Suit Contracts - Day 3
   Trump Leads - Day 4

Choice of Suits -

    Avoid Leading:

1.

Long suits bid by opponents

2.

An Ace of a suit if opponent may be void

3.

Suits that partner could have indicated during bidding but refused to do so

4.

Away from an Ace (underleading) in a long suit or one that declarer may hold the King

5.

Leading a singleton trump (unless you know partner has a long trump stack as passing your takeout double, or opponents made a high-level sacrifice with few honors - planning to cross-ruff, etc)

    General Lead Factors:

1.

Partner's bid suit, especially lead-directing doubles

2.

Suits where opponents' have weak holdings

3.

Passive lead when opponents' bidding shows:

A. 

Minimal strength

B.

Lack of strong side suit

C.

Declarer is strong but dummy is weak

D.

Lacking obvious lead

E.

Opponents' have a poor fit

F.

Solid Slam or Grandslam bid (as opposed to questionable ones)

4.

Aggressively lead suit/s to quickly take tricks when:

A. 

Dummy has a long suit likely to promote tricks

B.

Opponents' have extra values or showed slam interest

C.

Opponents' side suit is breaking evenly

5.

Lead trump (except with singleton) when:

A. 

 Opponents' have a misfit or mediocre fit

B.

Your side controls other suits (as when opponents sacrifice)

C.

Opponents' avoid Notrump

D.

Your side has a long trump holding (especially when making a penalty Pass)

6.

Lead short suit against suit contracts to develop ruffing tricks when:

A. 

Short in unbid suits

B.

Long in opponents' side suit (allowing partner to ruff)

7.

Consider Forcing Leads when:

A.

Opponents' do not have a strong trump fit, such as a 4-3 fit.

B.

Opponent's have 4-4 trump fit, while defenders have  a 4-1 trump distribution.

C.

Declarer hold a two suited hand.

D.

Defenders have a long suit/s which force declarer to ruff.

Choices Based on Strength - Based on bidding inferences, determine partner's likely point and suit holdings:

1.

If partner does not hold honors, lead to preserve possible tricks based on own holdings

2.

If partner has useful honors, lead to finesse dummy

3.

If holding strength in Dummy's suit which is likely to be finessed, lead aggressively

4.

If holding strength is declarer's suit likely to finesse Right Hand Opponent, consider a passive lead

Leads Against Notrump - Promote long suits and suits with controlling honors:

1.

Suit bid or implied by partner double (takeout, lead directing, Lightener Doubles)

2.

Top of honor sequence from a 4+ card suit (but not a 4 card suit with 1 honor or 2 intermediate honors)

3.

A 5 card suit with useful entries, particularly honor in suit

4.

Suits inferred by partner's pass (where another suit could have been implied with takeout, lead directing, Lightener Doubles)

5.

Without useful entries in long suit, lead another suit helpful to partner (opponent's unbid major, especially suits with honors)

6.

Against Gambling 3 Notrump, lead an Ace

Leads Against Suit Contracts -

1.

Suit bid or implied by partner double (takeout, lead directing, Lightener Doubles)

2.

Top of honor sequence, especially shorter suits

3.

Short suit, especially a singleton (assuming non-honor ruffing power)

4.

Long powerful non-trump suits, forcing lead exhausting opponents trump when:

A.

Holding 4+ trumps

B.

Declarer has a two suited hand

C.

Opponents' do not have a fit (4-3 trump)

5.

Suits inferred by partner's Pass (where another suit could have been implied with takeout, lead directing, Lightener Doubles)

6.

Trump lead when Dummy will likely ruff or develop tricks through crossruffing

7.

Trump lead when partner converts a Takeout Double to a Penalty Pass, implying a long trump holding

8.

Aggressive leads (as unsupported honors) when Dummy has a long suit

9.

Ace from a doubleton

10.

If none of the above, make a passive lead

Leads Against Slam Contracts -

1.

King from touching honors

2.

Use caution leading an Ace from a suit if opponent may be void

Leads From Suit Holdings - This table assumes standard fourth-best opening leads

Defender's
Length Holding Lead versus Notrump

Lead versus Suit

2

A x through x x

High

High

3

A x x, A 10 x

Low

Ace

 

A Q x, A J x

Middle

Ace

 

A K x

See a. See a.
 

K Q x, Q J x, J 10 x, 10 9 x

High

High

 

K J x, K 10 x, Q 10 x

Low

Low

 

K x x, Q x x, J x x, 10 x x

Low

Low

 

x x x

High

MUD, etc

4

A K 10 x, A K x x, K Q x x

High

High

 

A K J x, A K 10 9, K Q x x

Low

King

 

A Q J x, A J x x, A 10 x x, A x x x

Low

Ace

 

A J 10 x, A 10 x x

2nd Best

Ace

 

K Q J x, Q J 10 x, J 10 9 x, 10 9 8 x

High

High

 

K Q 10 x, Q J 9 x, J 10 8 x, 10 9 7 x

High

High

 

K J x x, J 10 x x, Q 10 x x

Low

Low

 

K x x x, Q x x x, J x x x, 10 x x x

Low

Low

 

Q J x x, J 10 x x, 10 9 x x

Low

Low

5

A K J 10 x

Ace

-

 

A K J x x

King

-

 

A J 10 9 x, A J 10 8 x, K J 10 9 x,
K J 10 8 x

2nd Best

-

 

A J 10 x x, K J 10 x x

2nd Best

-

 

A 10 9 x x, K 10 9 x x, Q 10 9 x x

Low

-

 

K 10 9 8 x, K 10 9 7x , Q 10 9 8 x,
Q 10 9 7 x

2nd Best

-

 

K Q J 10 x, K Q J 9 x, Q J 10 9 x,
Q J 10 8 x

High

-

 

K Q J x x, K Q 10 x x, Q J 10 x x,
J 10 9 x x

High

-

 

K Q 10 9 x, K 10 9 7 x, Q 10 9 8 x,
Q 10 9 7 x

2nd Best

-

 

K 10 9 8 x, K 10 9 7 x, Q 10 9 8 x,
Q 10 9 7 x

Low

-

 

10 9 8 7 x, 10 9 8 6 x, 10 9 7 6 x

High

-

 

J 10 8 x x, 10 9 8 x x, 10 9 7 x x

Low

-

 

J 10 9 8 x, J 10 9 7 x, J 10 8 7 x

High

-

a. Depending on partnership agreement, leads my be either the Ace or King.

Also see Details on signaling and books on Leads

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