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What to lead in partners suit?

Last deal we learnt that making lead-directing bids is hugely beneficial for the subsequent defence. Say partner has bid a suit, and you are (naturally) going to lead it. Which card is correct? Here are the key rules, in decreasing priority order:

(A) Lead the ace if you have it (except at notrumps).
(B) Lead top of two cards.
(C) Lead top of a sequence of two+ touching honours.
(D) Lead low if you like it (holding an honour), high if you hate it.

The underlined card is correct: 83, A42, Q83, Q3, KJ, KJ528432, 9732, AJ52, QJ3, K82, 1082.

North Deals
None Vul
K J 9 3
7 5
A 7 4
A 7 5 3
6 4 2
K 8 2
10 8 5 2
Q 9 4
W   E
A J 10 4 3
Q J 9
K 10 8 6
A Q 10 8 7
Q 9 6
K 6 3
J 2
West North East South
  1 NT 2  3 1
Pass 4  All pass  
  1. Showing five spades and a game-force.


What happened
Believing (erroneously) that it was always correct to lead top of partner’s suit, West led  K against South’s 4 . And now there was no defence to defeat the game. A second heart was led to East’s  A, and East switched to  Q. Declarer won  A, drew trumps in three rounds finishing in hand, then cashed the promoted  Q discarding  4, and followed by cashing  K and trumping  6 with dummy’s last trump. Just a club was lost from here - 10 tricks and game made. Even if West had switched to  2 at Trick Two, declarer would have succeeded, winning  A, drawing trumps finishing in dummy, and leading towards  Q, thus promoting the card for a diamond discard.

What should have happened
West should have led  2, not  K (key play). This shows his liking for the suit (lead low for like), but retains  K (in this instance to beat  Q). East wins  A, and returns  J, covered (say) by  Q and  K (or  J will win the trick). With  Q not promoted, declarer must lose a diamond and a club in the fullness of time. Down one.

If you remember one thing...
Do not necessarily lead top of partner’s suit - only do so when you have the ace, a doubleton, or a sequence.

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