Lead low from a doubleton honour

Rixi Markus ( England )  

When you, as a defender, are about to attack a suit in which you have a holding such as Jx, Qx or Kx, do you invariably lead the high card?

Most players do, but this is sometimes quite a costly mistake.


My BOLS bridge tip is:  

When you have to open up a suit in which you have a doubleton honour, consider the possible advantage of leading the low card.  

This is particularly likely to work when the hand on your left is marked with strength in this suit, and especially when you have no re-entry to your hand.

Suppose, for example, that at some point during the defence you lead the king from Kx and the next hand wins with the ace from AJX. Now, if you yourself cannot regain the lead, your partner will be stymied, even if his holding is as strong as, say, Q109x, for he will be unable to continue the suit except at the cost of a trick. Had you led low instead, the suit could have been cleared. (I am assuming, of course, that your partner has plenty of entries.)


I was able to put this tip to good use in a recent rubber. South opened with a weak no-trump, showing 12-14 points, and was raised to 3NT after the sequence below.

What would you have led from the West hand?



South Dealer

A K 10




Love All






K J 9 87 5





Q 7 4 2









Q 2



J 9 7 6 5 4 

10 7 4 3 2


W                         E

A J 9

 6 4 3




 8 6 5



10 3









8 3





K Q 8 5





10 7 2





A K J 9



























As South was unwilling to pass his partner's penalty double of Two Spades, it seemed clear that the spade strength was likely to be in the dummy. Accordingly, in view of the absence of any re-entry to my own hand, I decided to lead the two of spades rather than the queen.

Declarer could no longer cope with his task. He won with the ace, entered his hand with a club, and led a diamond, losing to my partner's queen. Declarer ducked the spade return, allowing my queen to hold, but I was able to put partner in with the ace of hearts to clear the spades. Now South could take only eight tricks.

It is easy to see that if West leads the queen of spades initially, declarer will win with the ace and make the contract, as East will be unable to attack spades effectively.

These situations occur quite frequently during the middle game, when it often pays to lead a small card from a doubleton honour. This is especially so where you can see three or four cards smaller than your honour in dummy provided that your partner is an intelligent player who can interpret. the meaning of your action.