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The “Rule of Two”

The Rule of Two states that as a defender, when leading from a suit in which only two cards are held (even if more were held originally), should lead the higher card first.

South Deals
Both Vul
K J 5
Q 9 7
K 5 2
A 8 7 5
9 7 6
K 8 6 4 2
J 6
9 4 2
W   E
4 3 2
A J 3
A Q 10 7 3
10 3
A Q 10 8
10 5
9 8 4
K Q J 6
West North East South
      1 NT
Pass 3 NT Pass Pass


South was theoretically correct to open 1 NT even with two suits unstopped. Any other opening bid would leave him unable to describe his hand accurately thereafter. Here, however, his weaknesses were mercilessly exposed.

West led  4 to dummy's  7, East's  J (not A) and declarer's  5. Leading top of his remaining doubleton to unblock the suit, East cashed  A and led  3 to West's  K. West led out his two remaining , winners by virtue of their length, and East discarded ♠ 2 and ♣ 3. Following the principle of discarding low cards in suits in which there is a lack of interest, East indicated he wished West to switch to s. Holding a doubleton West naturally switched to  J - had he switched to  6, declarer could limit his losses by playing low in dummy. On  J switch it would do declarer no good to duck in dummy as West would retain the lead to lead through  K a second time; therefore declarer tried dummy's  K. East won  K with  A, cashed  Q10, and followed with  73, the only remaining s in the pack.

Declarer had lost the first ten tricks - six down in his freely bid game!

THE RULE OF TWO: Lead top of a (remaining) doubleton

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