Leads & Signals



The choice of suit is not a subject of this document.
It will depend on your conclusions drawn from the following:
Honour Leads...A-9

We have developed a near common approach to leads from honour combinations against NT and suits contracts alike. Of course this is nothing to do with the choice of suit to lead which could be a very different choice whether against a NT or suit contract
The choices shown below are in order of frequency. Partner should assume reason 1. unless knowing better!



  1. 1. Promises 3 of the top honours. Any of these: AKQ{x}, AKJ{x}, KQJ{x}, KQT{x}
  2. 2. Doubleton Kx when leading against a suit contract. Leading from Kx or Kxx in your partners bid suit
  3. 3. Leading from AK bare


  1. 1. Top of sequence: can be either QJT{9}{x} or QJ9{x}
  2. 2. Lead from AQJ{x} or even AQTx{x}. Combinations not possible to cover with a Ten or King lead! Rare but can be right against a NT contract in particular where other leads may lose a tempo fatally
  3. 3. Leading partners suit holding: Qx or QJx etc
  4. 4. Leading from KQ doubleton or simply Q bare
  5. 5. Leading from KQx{x}


  1. 1. Top of sequence: can be either JT9 or JT8 possibly
  2. 2. Leading from QJx{x}


Note the lead of a TEN always promises a HIGHER honour (unless a singleton!)
AJT{9}{x} AT9{x} KJT{9}{x} KT9{x} QT9{x} & JT
Essentially - le dix  prommetteur

This lead from a touching card and a higher non-touching honour:- is more common in a NT contract.

Note the lead of a NINE always promises a higher honour (A...T) unless a singleton

3-card holdings: K93 or Q94 or even T9x.
2-card holding T9

Leads from other combinations

When leading from suits (4+ cards) headed by a single or 2 non-touching honours

Leading from suits NOT headed by a top honour (A, K or Q)
  1. *With 3 cards Lead the highest (unless a T or 9 then lead 2nd highest)
  2. * With 4 cards Usually lead the 2nd highest
  3. * With 5 cards Usually lead the 3rd highest
Note: we do not encourage leads from suits headed by a J, T or a 9

A Special note: Leading doubletons against suit contracts

Signals & showing Length

  1. Attitude always takes precedence over length indications whenever judgement requires it
On Partners lead of a suit for the first time (opening lead or subsequent when on lead):
If showing attitude: Playing LOW suggests that partner  is  invited to continue with the suit.
Playing high discourages continuation.
If partner is leading a suit you have bid the above still applies - however additionally playing an unusually high card  (when not attempting to win the trick) suggests an immediate switch is in order (but suit is not specified - left to partner's powers of logical deduction! )
In partner's suit or any other suit except trumps length is shown as
  1. EVEN_length When playing low then high it shows an even number of cards
  2. ODD_length   While playing high then low shows an odd number of cards
Not playing your lowest card discourages interest - and the lowest card encourages interest

Following suit
LOW-HIGH shows an EVEN hand type - 3 even length suits e.g. 4432
HIGH-LOW shows an ODD hand type - 3 odd length suits e.g.5431
If  it is essential that partner must be aware of your length (e.g.declarer trying to establish dummies suit) then use inverted signals - lowest shows EVEN and a higher card ODD length. When showing ODD do not be afraid to play 3rd highest if safe to do so as it clarifies 'no interest' to your partner while showing ODD  length.
Otherwise playing lowest shows possible interest and playing your
2nd lowest denies any interest.

Discard Rules