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Returning Partners Suit

If partner has led low - for like - he wants the suit returned. Let us say that you win the trick, and a look at dummy makes it appear correct to return the suit.

Q: Which card do you return?
A: You show your present count (not low for like/high for hate).

Here are the basic guidelines:

  1. Lead top of two remaining cards.
  2. Lead lowest from three remaining.
  3. Lead second lowest from four remaining.

[Another way to express (2) and (3) is to return the “original fourth highest”.]


Partner  75 You
 4 led   (i)  A106
    (ii)  A1063
    iii)  A10863

After winning  A, you return...
(i)  10, top of two remaining.
(ii)  3, lowest of three remaining.
(iii)  6, second lowest from four remaining.

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


What happened
West led  2 vs 3 NT, and East won  A. At Trick Two, East returned  3. Believing East was leading back low from three remaining, and that the layout of the suit was...

West   East
 KJ92     A863

West beat declarer’s  10 with  J and tried to cash  K. No good. Declarer followed with  6, won West’s  9 with  Q, and cashed his nine minor-suit winners. Game made plus one, with East never even scoring  A.

What should have happened
East wins  2 lead with  A, and returns  8 (key play - top of two remaining). West beats declarer’s  10 with  J, and can work out that declarer has  Qx remaining. Needing to put his partner back on play, West switches to  9 (lead high for hate in dummy’s weakest suit). East wins  A and returns  3, enabling West to score both  K9, sitting as they are over declarer’s  Q6. Down one.

If you remember one thing...
Which card to lead back on the second round of a suit

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