The first trump

Derek Rimington ( England )

DEREK RIMINGTON, English Grand Master and international player, managed Greater London's computer operations until 1981, a memorable year for him for that was when he captained the British women's team to victory for the triple crown Common Market, European and World Championships. He now spends much of the year with his wife Barbara as the bridge host on worldwide cruises. He is also a bridge author, editor and writer, contributing to many magazines and newspapers as well being columnist for The Field magazine.

In a rubber of bridge he once overcalled One Heart on QJ42 with nine solid spades. When his partner raised him to Two Hearts he bid 5NT (Josephine). When the response of Seven Hearts located the two top honours in that suit, he 'escaped' to Seven Spades

IN English, the phrase 'The Last Trump' is the sound of a bugle at a military funeral. In contract bridge, its apparent converse, 'The First Trump', may refer to the initial lead by a defender.

If that lead is to sound the death-knell of a contract it is sometimes essential that it be the lowest one held.

Obviously, with the following trump combination it is vital to lead the eight if a trick is not to be lost.


Q9 3 2

West                                  East

♠ J 10 8               ♠ K Declarer

           ♠ A 7 6 5 4

There are other situations, however, where it can cost if a high trump is led. Hence my tip is:

When leading a trump,

always choose the lowest card.

Another example


     ♠ 653

West                                  East

♠ 7 4 2                                      ♠ J


              ♠ AKQ1098

Here the seven, if led, could cost if it allows South to ruff twice in dummy with the six and five, even though West is also short in the same side-suit.

Look at this one:


♠ Q72

West                                  East

9865                      Declarer


The nine or eight of trumps, if led, surrenders a second entry to dummy with the seven. This may enable declarer to establish a side suit for discards.

Another reason for leading the lowest trump is that it informs partner that all the lower unseen trumps are held by declarer. This facilitates the counting of his hand and may indicate a successful line of defence in preference to an alternative which is doomed to fail.

The board which led to my adopting the ides of leading the lowest trump occurred over forty years ago when I was playing with Albert Dormer in a British Championship match




South Dealer





K 9 6 4 2




Game All

 7 6 5 2










 A J 8









Q 8



J 10 7 5 3

 K 10 9 8 3


W                         E


 K 10 6 3



 J 9 5 4

  7 2



 Q 5 4














 A Q 4





 A 8 7 2





 K 10 9 6 3




























Declarer will always make his game on a red-suit lead; a spade is more challenging but he can still survive. A trump lead is essential to ensure defeat of the contract. Being of mean disposition, I led the two of clubs although the textbooks in those days gave no guidance on this subject. When declarer played the jack, Albert naturally withheld his queen. If it had been surrendered, declarer could have succeeded by ruffing two diamonds in dummy.

Lastly, note that the seven of clubs lead allows declarer to succeed, even with Albert's good play. South simply crossruffs spades and diamonds. In the ending he cashes the ace of hearts and exits with a heart. He has nine tricks and the other two must come from the lead of a defender because he holds the king-six as a tenace over East's queen-five.

Serendipity gave me the correct technique all those years ago. Now BOLS has enabled me to pass on the message in my bridge tip.


When leading a trump,
always choose the lowest card.