Trump leads

Sandra Landy ( England )

Sandra is a WBF Grand Master and the top British woman in the WBF rankings, a list she has headed at various times over the last twenty five years. Although best known as a player, having won two Venice Cups and three European Championships, she has also had success as a captain — she led the British open team to victory in the 1991 European Championship. Heavily involved in bridge administration, Sandra was a member of the Board of the English Bridge Union as well as a trustee of the Educational Trust for British Bridge . She is well known for her direct, aggressive, no-nonsense approach to the game, hence the 'Landy game try' is an expression used for a sequence such as 1♠ — 2♠ --- 4 ♠ !

DECIDING whether or not to lead a trump against a suit contract is never easy. Apart from picking a trump because every other lead looks worse, the main reason is to try to cut down the number of ruffs declarer can get in dummy or to prevent the hand being played on a cross-ruff. An auction like 1♠—1NT—2 almost demands a trump lead as does one where one hand has shown three-suiter and they appear to have found 4-4 fit.

However, a problem arises when, having decided a trump is the right lead, you look a your trump holding and decide it is the last holding you would wish to lead from something like KJx or Q10x or Kx. But you should not automatically be put off, because usually if a trump is the right lead the lost trick comes back in some other way.

On this example, the bidding, with East West only vulnerable, went:
















All Pass

One Spade was a limited opener with a five-card suit, Precision style; the double of Two Hearts was negative; the double of Four Hearts was explained as a hand that is good in context. What should West lead from:




¨  AQ6



It sounds like dummy is not strong for his negative double as he has removed the double of Four Hearts. He is therefore likely to hold only two spades or he would have raised spades straightaway. To remove the double he is likely to be short in hearts so a trump looks a good lead. David Price of Great Britain found this lead and was pleased to see dummy come down with:


♠  J 10


¨ 108543



Declarer won the jack of spades but couldn't believe the lead could possibly be away from the queen, so at trick two David found himself winning a trick with the spade queen. Now that dummy was out of spades it was safe to play hearts.


My second hand also comes from a Common Market Pairs Championship. As West I held:


♠ 8532



    ♣ 962


My partner, East, started the bidding with One Diamond. This was Precision and showed an opener of sixteen or less points that contained a long minor or was a weak balanced hand. The auction went:




2¨         Pass      3♣          Pass

3         Pass      4          All Pass


South's Two Diamonds showed both majors. North's Three Clubs showed genuine clubs and at most three hearts. My partner might

hold five or more diamonds but in that case we were unlikely to have many winners in the suit. I had to hope my partner was balanced with spade values or we would have no defence, so it looked right to cut down on dummy's ruffs. I led the king of hearts. When you see the full deal it looks a disaster but in fact an early trump lead is essential to beat the contract. Look at the whole lay-out:



East Dealer






N-S Game


 J 10 6






 J 9 8 5 2






 A K 8 7 4










8 5 3 2




A Q J 9


K 9


W                         E


 8 7 2


 K Q 10 6




 A 7 4


 9 5 2




 Q 10 3










K 10 7 6 4






 A Q 5 4 3












 J 5





South can duck a club and make five hearts and four clubs, or can ruff two spades in dummy using a club ruff to get back to hand, but try as he may there are only nine tricks. On the lead of king and another diamond, declarer can make three trumps in dummy, five trumps in hand and the ace and king of clubs.

The contract can be beaten on the lead of the king of diamonds followed by a heart switch won with the jack, but great care is needed. South must duck a club and East has to win and return a club, otherwise South will make five trumps in hand, one ruff in dummy and four clubs. Of course, East could make it easy by overtaking the king of diamonds with the ace and switching to a heart ... but it is not easy for him as it would be very wrong if declarer had a doubleton diamond.


So my BOLS bridge tip is:

Always have a good reason for leading trumps. If you have decidedthat a trump lead is rightdo not worry too much if your trump holding looks unsuitable.