1. What is the best advice about leading aces against suit contracts?
Don’t do it. I cannot tell you the number of times I have seen someone toss out an ace in the name of getting a look at dummy and discovering that leading the ace cost one or more tricks.
Here is an example hand. East is the dealer and you are West. No one is vulnerable.
♠ A J 8 ♥ 8 7 3 ♦ 9 2 ♣ J 10 8 5 3
This is the auction:
What do you lead? If you look at the spade suit more than once, that is bad. If you look at the spade suit and actually lead a spade, that is worse. I hope the editors put this article on
a page that you do not mind tearing out of The Bridge Bulletin. If they do, you should remove it, make copies of it and give one to all of your partners. If you read this article and take it to heart, your leads will take a huge step forward.
The full deal from the example:
Look what happens if you lead something besides a spade. The ♣J is a fair choice. So is a trump. Let’s say you lead the ♣J. East will win and may choose to return a trump. This is not a bad idea because he can see the doubleton spade in dummy.
South will win in dummy and will probably lead a spade to the king. Your ace will be a big disappointment to him. You continue trumps, and South continues trying to ruff a spade in dummy. But he cannot get away with this because you can take the last trump out of dummy. South, in time, will lose three spade tricks, two diamonds and one club. Down two.
Here is what happens if you lead the ♠A. First, South only has one top spade loser, not two. If you lead the ♠A, South will get a spade ruff in dummy. Your ♠A lead costs you two tricks, not just one.
Here are some questions that you may not have heard before. Look at the West hand. How many spades do you think your partner has? Most likely you will say five. If East had six, he might have bid again.
If he has five spades, how many do the opponents have? The answer is five.
If the opponents have five spades and your partner has five spades, aren’t each as likely to have the ♠K?
3. Are there exceptions to the rule about not leading aces against suit contracts?
Never lead an ace? Not always true. Here are some very special possible exceptions where you can think about leading an ace.
When you have the ace and king of a suit.
If you are on lead against a suit contract and you have the ace and king of a suit, it is, in general, a fine lead.
When you have a singleton ace.
If you are on lead against a suit contract and you have a singleton ace, you may consider leading it if you think you can get your partner in to give you a ruff. If you do not think you can get your partner in, do not lead a singleton ace.
When you have a doubleton ace.
If you are on lead against a suit contract and have a doubleton ace, you may consider leading it if you have reason to believe that your partner can get in somehow to give you a ruff. Leading a doubleton ace is not that good a lead, so if one of your opponents has bid the suit, look elsewhere. If it is an unbid suit or better yet, if your partner bid the suit, you can consider leading a doubleton ace.
It is with combinations like these that you should not lead aces: A–8–7–4, A–10–5–2, A–J–8, A–Q–6, A–9–6–5–3.