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West leads the 5. As 11-5 = 6, and East can see six cards higher than the 5 in dummy and in his own hand, he will known that the declarer cannot hold a card higher than the 4, so that whichever card is played from poker table he can win the trick by playing the card just higher.

            Against a suit contract it is usually best to lead partner’s suit, if he has bid one.  If he has not, and the player on lead has to lead from his own suit, he should give preference to leading the top card of an hon our sequence.  He should avoid leading a card that may cost a trick e.g. leading the King from K Q x, or a card that may enable the declarer to win a trick with a card that might have been captured e.g. leading the Ace from A Q x.  The lead of a trump is a good lead if the bidding has suggested that the dummy will be able to trump side suits.
            After the opening lead has been made, and the dummy hand exposed, it is of first importance for the declarer, before he plays a card from dummy, to take stock of the position and decide upon the best way to play the cards.

            Against West’s contract of Three No-Trumps, North leads the Queen of Spades.  At first sight it may seem immaterial whether West wins the trick with the Ace in dummy or with the King in his own hand.  In the event, it matters a lot in which hand he wins the trick.  If West gives consideration to the position he will appreciate that he must win the first trick with the king of Spades in this hand, win the King.  Queen and Jack of Clubs, reach dummy, by leading the 4 of Spades to the Ace, to win dummy’s Ace and 7 of clubs, and finally the two red Aces in his own hand.  If West wins the first trick with dummy’s Ace of Spades, he will lose the contract if the adverse Clubs fail to divide 3-2, because he has left himself with No-Trump practical poker entry to the Clubs.

            When the declarer is playing a No-Trump contract, usually his first aim should be to establish his longest suit.  In many cases, however, it is better to develop a short and strong suit rather than a long and weak one.

            North leads a Club against West’s contract of Three No-Trumps.  Consideration shows that West’s best play is to win with the King of Clubs and play on Spades to knock out the Ace.  This way, West makes sure of his contract with three tricks in Spades, three in Hearts, one in Diamonds and two in Clubs.  The Diamond suit is longer than the Spade suit, but west cannot develop East’s Diamonds without first losing the lead twice.  By then the opponents will have set up the Clubs and broken the contract; in any case, only three tricks in Diamonds will be developed for eight in all, which is not enough.
            In a suit contract, it is usually the right play for the declarer to draw the adverse trumps at the first opportunity.  Trumps, however, should not be drawn if the declarer can find a better use for them.

            West plays in Four Hearts, and North leads a Club.  West wins the first trick with the Ace of Clubs, and if he draws the trumps at once his contract will depend on the finesse of the Queen of Spades being successful.  It is No more than an even chance.  The contract is a certainty if West, after winning the first trick with the Ace of Clubs, leads either the 7 or 3 of the suit.  It does not matter whether North or South wins the trick, or what card is returned.  Declarer wins the next trick and trumps a Club in dummy.  Now the adverse trumps may be drawn, and West comes to ten tricks with one Spade, five Hearts, two Diamonds and one Club by learn poker leads, and the ruff of a Club on the table.

PLATE 14 (Opposite) Canasta in progress.  Both sides have melded.  One side also has two red 3s on the table and is freezing the discard pile with a black 3.

A valuable weapon in the armory of the declarer is the ability to manage a suit to make the most tricks out of it

  West                         East
      A 9 3 2                    k q 10 5 4


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