Book a Course

View all the latest courses going on at the bridge club and book yours now...
View Courses View Playing Schedule

What does partners lead mean?

Choosing which suit to lead is most of the battle for a defender. But don’t get careless and then lead the wrong card. Here are the four rules for which card to select to send the appropriate message:

(1) Lead top from a sequence of two+ touching high cards:
AK42, KQ3, J1052, KJ102

(2) Lead top from two cards:
97,  Q3, 104,  J7,

(3) Lead Low for Like:
KJ52, Q54, K103, Q964

(4) Lead High for Hate:
9752,  8732,  983,  7432

(try to lead second highest from rubbish, so that you can follow with the higher one next time, and so avoid the confusion with top from a doubleton).

Note that I am not necessarily recommending the above leads (indeed I have mentioned my general distaste for the top-of-a-doubleton lead on several occasions); merely I am telling you which card to lead, if you are to lead the suit.

When partner has led, you should make the following working assumptions:

  • (a) An honour lead (ace down to ten) shows the card immediately below and denies the card immediately above.
  • (b) A high spot card (nine down to five/six-ish) is from a suit that partner does not wish you to return.
  • (c) A low spot card (five/six-ish down to two) is from a suit partner does want you to lead back.

This East did not get the message...

South Deals
None Vul
Q 10 7 4
Q 10 3
9 7 3 2
6 3
9 8 4 2
A Q 4
J 9 6 4
W   E
A 7 5
J 10 5
Q 10 8 7 5 2
A K J 9 5 2
K J 6
K 8 6
West North East South
Pass 3  Pass 4 
All pass      


What happened
West reasonably chose  8 as his opening lead. The one suit he couldn’t afford to lead from was a diamond - away from the ace - but because he was desperate for partner to switch to the suit and not return a heart, he made sure he led a high heart (“lead high for hate”). The message fell on deaf ears. East won  A and and returned  7. Declarer won, drew trumps, cashed  AK discarding  6, and claimed ten tricks. Game made.

What should have happened
East wins  A and, partner’s  8 being a clear high for hate lead, switches to  J (dummy’s weakness). This scoops up three quick tricks for the defence - down one.

If you remember one thing...
Do not return partner’s lead of a high spot card (unless you suspect it to be top from two cards).

ARBC: 31 Parsons Green Lane, London SW6 4HH
Call NOW: 0207 471 4626