At a recent American Contract Bridge League National Championship, I was playing in with a Silver Life Master, a very accomplished player. On one hand, with opponents vulnerable, I held:
I was on lead and, without a double from my partner, I refrained from leading from my 5-card club suit, especially since east bid no trump twice after I had bid Clubs, and I was sitting behind him. Instead I led 4th from the KQxx of Hearts, an unbid suit. My RHO made 4, running the six-card diamond suit and three Spades after taking the ace of hearts, finally conceding the last three tricks.
Here are the actual hands:
My partner had the Ace third of Clubs. Had I led the Six of Clubs (fourth from my longest and strongest suit, generally the best lead against no trump), she wins with her Ace, returns a Club through Declarer’s original holding of Queen third, and we take five Club tricks off the top for down one before Declarer can get the lead. I asked her why she didn’t double for a Club lead. She responded that a double would have asked me to lead a diamond, dummy’s first bid suit!
It seems to be a common misconception among players even as experienced as she that a double of a 3N contract always asks for the lead of Dummy’s first bid suit. In fact, the rules are more detailed than that. A double of a 3N contract by the bidder’s partner, when bidder is on lead, asks for a lead of bidder’s suit. The absence of a double implies that bidder should not lead his suit.
Here are the rules for lead directing doubles of 3 no trump contracts:
- If your partner (who doubled) has bid a suit, lead her suit;
- If you have bid a suit and your partner doubles, lead your suit;
- If neither of you has bid, you should lead Dummy’s first bid suit unless you have a better lead in your hand, so you can use your judgment;
- If you have both bid, use your own judgment, but if your suit isn’t terrific, lead partner’s suit;
- If no suit has been bid by opponents and neither of you has bid, your doubling partner is asking for an unusual lead. She probably has a long running suit, so you should probably lead your shortest suit.
H. Anthony (Tony) Medley is the author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Bridge,” which is available at most bookstores.