• 4th highest from a suit with honours
  • 2nd highest from a suit without honours (unless this will mislead partner into thinking you have an honour)
  • Lowest from a three-card suit with honours
  • Top of a doubleton (or a three card suit if MUD would mislead partner)
  • Top of an honour sequence, eg K from KQJxx, or an internal sequence, eg 10 from K109xx. This might be only two high cards against a trump contract, but should be three against no-trumps.
  • Two consecutive honours is sufficient for an honour lead against a trump contract.
  • Three is preferred against no-trumps (or four if the suit has been bid by an opponent).
  • Leading the ace asks for an attitude signal, while king asks for count.

    1st assumptionencouraging
    2nd assumption if can't be 1stlength
    3rd assumption if can't be 1st or 2ndSuit Preference Signal - high for higher suit, low for lower suit
    High-low in trumpsalso has a third trump and a desire to ruff
    High-level cash-out situationsif possible a high odd card is encouraging with an odd number of cards and a high even card is encouraging with an even number.


    Normally when following suit in defence one plays the lowest necessary card, e.g. the jack if holding KQJ.To break this rule shows a specific message, e.g. partner led the jack from J10842 against 3NT, dummy has a void and you hold KQ73. You signal with the 7 and declarer holds up the ace. When partner leads a small card at trick two, you'll play the king, which promises the queen since you wouldn't have ducked an unsupported king at trick one. By corollary, playing the queen at trick two would deny any higher honour.
    "play the card you're known to hold"This applies in situations where declarer might be trying to count the hand. For example, let's say you hold KJ2 underneath dummy's AQxx. If declarer successfully finesses the queen, then you should consider playing the king on the second round (harder for declarer to read) instead of the jack (which makes it easy for him).
    Copyright 2015 Finn Clark.