When you are on defense you should develop a defensive plan just as you do when you are the declarer playing the contract. The opening lead is the first part of a defensive plan.
What do I lead against a NoTrump Contract?
An opening lead against a NoTrump contract hopes to punch a hole in the declarers weakest suit, with the defense developing as many tricks as possible, before declarer can change to their stronger suits. Leading the fourth highest card from your longest and strongest suit allows partner (and also declarer) with the ‘Rule of Eleven’ to work out where all the cards higher than the opening lead may be located.
Opening lead against a No Trump Contract
- lead your 4th highest card from your longest and strongest suit, this allows your partner to use the rule of eleven to find out how many higher cards than the opening lead are in the other three hands. Usually, you should have an honor or two at the top of the suit – that is what partner will expect of you when you make this lead.
- second choice is – with a sequence or a near sequence with three or more cards in a suit, lead the top card.
Opening leads from the following holdings
♥ A Q 8 3 2: Lead the 3. If leading this suit allows declarer’s king to win a trick you can take four more heart tricks
♠ K 9 7 4 2: Lead the 4. Fourth highest of a five-card suit with an honor is a really good lead.
♦ A Q 3 2: With a four-card suit with the Ace and Queen try to find another suit to lead. you are possibly giving declarer a get out of jail card
♣ K 6 5 3: Lead the 3.
♥ 9 7 6 5 3: Lead the 7, the second highest. Partner can use the rule of eleven to work out that it is not your 4th highest. Partner will then know that you don”t have any honors in that suit.
And When all Else Fails
Despite paying closest attention to everything at the table you still have no clear ‘best opening lead”. In these situations, lead a spade. This applies just to NoTrump contracts and works on the assumption that declarer or dummy would have bid spades if they had enough of them. In Bridge it is always important to look for a major suit fit, before bidding no trumps, and spades as the highest ranking suit is the suit easiest to bid if a fit existed
Exercise: You are third to play to your partners opening lead the 7♦, Dummy goes down on the table. What do you now know about the outstanding diamond cards which are higher than the 7♦?
Third to Play
♠ Q J
♥ 10 9 5
♦ K 9 2
♣ 10 9 7 6 4
Using the rule of 11, try to work out Declarers high cards in Diamonds.
11-7=4 and also the KD & 9D in your hand the JD in dummy, so there is only 1 card higher than the 7D . If dummy plays low the 7D will force out the AD in declarer’s hand. You need to only just cover what dummy plays
♠ 10 9 8 3 2
♥ 8 7 6 4
♦ J 6
♣ A K
♠ X X X X
♥ X X X
♦ X X X
♣ X X X
♠ X X
♥ X X X
♦ X X X 7 X
♣ X X
Against NoTrumps – lead fourth highest from longest and strongest suit. So Diamond 7
Exercise: From the following suit holdings below choose your opening lead. For the answers check against the “Opening leads from the following holdings” above
1.) Your Opening Lead Card is?
2.) Your Opening Lead Card is?
3.) Your Opening Lead Card is?
4.) Your Opening Lead Card is?
5.) Your Opening Lead Card is?