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Leading from small cards

#1 User is offline   Wackojack 

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Posted 2016-July-25, 13:02

Here in UK I believe it is standard to lead 2nd highest from 3 or more small and 4th from an honour. Usually it is possible to work out from the value of the card whether or not it is from an honour. Elsewhere, it seems to be common to lead smallest from 3 (as does GIB). What are the advantages and disadvantages of this. Oh! and where do attitude 1eads fit into this? Of course you can break these rules if the bidding already indicates the number of cards held. e.g. If you raise partner's suit with 3 and find yourself on lead. Then you may lead your highest card in that suit.

Please don't just tell me what you play. I want the advantages and disadvantages of the various approaches to leads.
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#2 User is offline   MrAce 

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Posted 2016-July-25, 15:01

Leading smallest from xxx gives partner more clear information about the count. When you lead and dummy comes down. most of the 3rd hand player (your pd) starts to think the overall defense. This is the most important stage of defense. If he is not sure whether you are leading from a doubleton or xxx, his already hard task becomes even much harder. If you add false carding by declarer, he is in total mess most of the time against a MUD lead.

Having said this, there are auctions where you may want to lead the middle card. Especially when you know partner does not have much of values to decide on your lead and you are the key defender, you can decide to fool declarer on the 2nd turn of this suit, depending on position.

Another advantage of leading smallest from xxx vs those who do not, others tell declarer that they have a honor. But vice versa, leading small from xxx, we tell declarer our count.

See, yesterday you actually experienced both positions;

1-You were my opponent and I led smallest from xxx, you played me to have an honor, which I could have, and you went down. Had I led middle, you would have no difficulty to make it.

2- When you were pd with me, you led 7, middle from something like 97x, and as your pd at T1 I played you for doubleton and started assigning shapes for declarer accordingly.
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#3 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2016-July-26, 02:40

The classic comparison is from xxx.

Leading the highest card gives the clearest indication about attitude but can cause problems for count, especially against xx.
Leading the lowest card gives the clearest indication about count, particularly when combined with a 3rd/5th or 3rd/low leading style, but is ambiguous about whether the suit contains an honour.
Leading the middle card attempts to provide both pieces of information but neither is really clear.

I think that the majority position has switched very clearly towards leading the lowest in this situation, something I decided for myself after a little testing over 20 years ago having started with MUD.

With 4 or 5 cards in the suit, the second highest lead makes more sense as it is less likely to be confused with a short-suit lead. If playing 3/5 or 3/low, the second is quite likely to be confused with a 3rd highest lead though, so switching to the highest for long, weak suits makes sense there. The advantage of that method is the clearest possible count signalling on opening lead; the disadvantage is that the top card is sometimes too valuable to lead and you need to lead the second highest anyway or risk giving away a trick.
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#4 User is offline   nullve 

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Posted 2016-July-26, 06:03

I've enjoyed a style where leading from two small cards is considered (a breakable) taboo except when partner has shown 6+ cards, or requested a lead, in the suit. So whenever the taboo applies, partner will never confuse e.g. high from three small with lead (e.g. high) from doubleton.
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#5 User is offline   1eyedjack 

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Posted 2016-July-26, 06:42

There is a coterie of players in UK who these days lead
xX
hXx
Xxx

This seems (in their minds) to minimise confusion, based on the (at best dubious) premise that you are equally likely to lead from any of these holdings for which distinction is desirable.
Psych (pron. saik): A gross and deliberate misstatement of honour strength and/or suit length. Expressly permitted under Law 73E but forbidden contrary to that law by Acol club tourneys.

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Masterminding (pron. mPosted ImagesPosted ImagetPosted Imager-mPosted ImagendPosted Imageing) tr. v. - Any bid made by bridge player with which partner disagrees.

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#6 User is offline   jogs 

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Posted 2016-July-26, 18:05

View Postnullve, on 2016-July-26, 06:03, said:

I've enjoyed a style where leading from two small cards is considered (a breakable) taboo except when partner has shown 6+ cards, or requested a lead, in the suit. So whenever the taboo applies, partner will never confuse e.g. high from three small with lead (e.g. high) from doubleton.

I'm in your school. I rarely lead from a doubleton of an unbid suit. As you said, all rules are written in sand.
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#7 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2016-July-26, 22:14

In his book on opening leads, Mike Lawrence provides arguments in favor of low and top from 3 small. But he's extremely critical of MUD, because it seems to be the worst of both worlds.

#8 User is offline   sfi 

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Posted 2016-July-26, 22:57

In my experience, MUD gives you all the information you need, but one trick too late.

Typically, when you lead high partner knows you don't have an honour in the suit. When you lead low, partner knows you don't have a doubleton. I tend to prefer low vs. suits and high vs. NT, but it's never perfect.
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#9 User is offline   Wackojack 

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Posted 2016-July-27, 10:14

My link

Yes the lead of the 3♦ did me damage in that I thought it would be from an honour and so took a losing finesse to the 9 later. In fact I did think that a lead from Q853 or Qx(3) seemed an unlikely lead and added to the fact that I can get away a losing ♦ on the A♠, I knew that there was 2 tricks difference in my choice of ♦ play. But greed took over, and I went off when the finesse didnít work. On this occasion defender West didnít need to know anything about the lead. Holding ♦QJ76 and seeing the 2 in dummy the 3 could not be from a singleton since that would give me 5 and I did not bid 2♦. Thus from Westís POV the lead would be from 10853 and if you know that partner does not play MUD then also 853. West doesn.t care either way.

Suppose MrAce happened to be playing MUD leads and 4th only from an honour. Then he would lead the 5. Then from my POV this could be from Q875, Q865, Q765, Q85, Q75, Q65, 853, 753, 653. I would not be any the wiser. West however would know the exact 3 cards i.e. 853.
Thus it is not fair to say that MUD leads only reveal when it is too late.


My link

If you do not think we are playing MUD, then you would think that either I am playing from J97 or from 7x or less likely 7 singleton. Suppose I had led the 3♦ instead of the 7. Not much difference. It just eliminates the doubleton possibility, since the 2 is visible in dummy. Either way the contract can (should) still go off. Let us say declarer plays the Ace just the same and also next plays 6♠. Now when you play the K♠ how much does that influence you not to make the ♣ killing switch? West was fortunate to have a 4 card heart suit on the bidding and if only holding 2 it only makes sense to try and stop declarer getting a spade ruff in hand if leading a trump doesnít give away a trump trick.

Anyway, that is not the point of this post. My point is that playing MUD (or not) does not appear to me to be relevant to the outcomes of either hand. I want to keep an open mind, but as yet I am not convinced that leading lowest from 3 or more small is superior to 2nd highest.
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#10 User is offline   MrAce 

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Posted 2016-July-27, 11:08

View PostWackojack, on 2016-July-27, 10:14, said:


Anyway, that is not the point of this post. My point is that playing MUD (or not) does not appear to me to be relevant to the outcomes of either hand. I want to keep an open mind, but as yet I am not convinced that leading lowest from 3 or more small is superior to 2nd highest.


You are entitled to be convinced or not. I am not saying leading smallest is superior only, I am saying leading middle systematically is almost unplayable unless you have an agreement that is out of touch with realities of bridge, such as having an agreement that you do not lead doubletons as some here stated. Any decent player or anyone with some experience knows that an agreement to not lead doubletons, is unplayable.

And you are contradicting with yourself. If what you lead as MUD is not always giving info to declarer, same applies to pd as well! It is as difficult for pd as it is for declarer depending on who holds which spots. So when this becomes the case, pd not only does not know what is going on as count and as honor locations.

It is a huge information to declarer to lead 2 from K72 and 7 from 972. Because in your example due to flannery leading 7 from J97 can be acceptable. People mostly almost never leads anything from a J97 holding in real life. Yes, as you said sometimes it is not available for declarer to spot what you lead is small or high, but it is still a huge information to know that you would never lead smallest from xxx.

That information you are giving, is RARELY helpful for pd and frequently helpful for declarer. Of course I am not saying there are no downsides of leading smallest.

EDIT: I just read SFI's comment, which I completely agree with. I also lead MUD or even highest in NT contracts.

When I used to play as partner with Richard Pavlicek, even me looked like an old school compared to him. He asked me to give count on EVERYTHING, including first discard. You know why? Good players almost always can figure out the locations of honors, or at least they know which honors they need in order to have a chance in defense. Not knowing the count is totally another story. Anyone who plays GIB events know exactly what I mean. In defense I almost NEVER need the attitude signals. Not knowing the count however what puts me into making very uncomfortable decisions.
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#11 User is offline   MrAce 

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Posted 2016-July-27, 11:35

Another thing about the MUD leads, that I really hate, is that it opens a lot of cans of worms with their tempo on playing at 2nd round of this suit. Especially when pd is cashing and/or pd is winning the 2nd round.
If you lead 5 from 852, you better decide what to play next on 2nd run of this suit. If you hesitate, I hate it.
Of course I also hate leading 2 from this holding and then tank on 2nd run of this suit about playing 5 or 8 as well. But the hesitation and UI given on the MUD one is much more frequent.
"Genius has its own limitations, however stupidity has no such boundaries!"
"It's only when a mosquito lands on your testicles that you realize there is always a way to solve problems without using violence!"

"Well to be perfectly honest, in my humble opinion, of course without offending anyone who thinks differently from my point of view, but also by looking into this matter in a different perspective and without being condemning of one's view's and by trying to make it objectified, and by considering each and every one's valid opinion, I honestly believe that I completely forgot what I was going to say."





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#12 User is offline   shyams 

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Posted 2016-July-28, 01:40

View PostMrAce, on 2016-July-27, 11:08, said:

When I used to play as partner with Richard Pavlicek, even me looked like an old school compared to him. He asked me to give count on EVERYTHING, including first discard. You know why? Good players almost always can figure out the locations of honors, or at least they know which honors they need in order to have a chance in defense. Not knowing the count is totally another story. Anyone who plays GIB events know exactly what I mean. In defense I almost NEVER need the attitude signals. Not knowing the count however what puts me into making very uncomfortable decisions.

+1 :)

When I recently mentioned "count always" to a pick-up partner at a club, he thought I was crazy! I have often found "count always" as a very useful defensive feature (especially for average/club players like me).
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#13 User is offline   Wackojack 

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Posted 2016-July-28, 02:08

View Postshyams, on 2016-July-28, 01:40, said:

+1 :)

When I recently mentioned "count always" to a pick-up partner at a club, he thought I was crazy! I have often found "count always" as a very useful defensive feature (especially for average/club players like me).


Intresting! A few years ago I played count carding with all my partners. This included "Kitchen Bridgers" who wanted to play "Dodds". I said just throw what you can afford and give me count and I will work it out. I still play primarily count with 2 regular partners before attitude. In reality though the partnership should work out what each other needs to know and signal accordingly.
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#14 User is offline   MrAce 

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Posted 2016-July-28, 06:09

View PostWackojack, on 2016-July-28, 02:08, said:

In reality though the partnership should work out what each other needs to know and signal accordingly.


That is true.

But you do not know what he needs on first leads. It is VERY rare that pd will need whether you have an honor in the led suit or not, in a suit contract, without the knowledge of from how many cards you are leading it. Of course if you supported pd with xxx and you are leading it, and pd already knows you did not raise with 4 cards, you should lead highest from xxx and smallest from Hxx. (though some people prefer to lead with SP in this suit)




"Genius has its own limitations, however stupidity has no such boundaries!"
"It's only when a mosquito lands on your testicles that you realize there is always a way to solve problems without using violence!"

"Well to be perfectly honest, in my humble opinion, of course without offending anyone who thinks differently from my point of view, but also by looking into this matter in a different perspective and without being condemning of one's view's and by trying to make it objectified, and by considering each and every one's valid opinion, I honestly believe that I completely forgot what I was going to say."





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#15 User is offline   Cheryl88 

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Posted 2016-July-29, 12:06

From xxx, I've tried all three - BOSTON, MUD, and count - and ended up most comfortable with BOSTON because it is the easiest. Think 3rds and 5ths (count) is the best for the top players because they can take advantage of the information.

BOSTON (Bottom Of Something, Top Of Nothing) is easy because I get clear useful information immediately. Experts don't need this so much because they have a feel for the bidding. For me, I don't even count out the hand.

MUD is for the more intermediate player. After second time around played, partner will now know if you have a high-low doubleton for a ruff or leading from xxx. Useful for the player astute enough to watch both your leads but not so useful for the expert who can figure this out anyway.

But my defense is not world class and so count or even MUD is like giving pearls to swine for moi, lol.
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#16 User is offline   Wackojack 

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Posted 2016-July-30, 05:23

I have to say that leading low from any 4 (or even worse 3) gives me the creeps. No doubt that when the auction is more informative then partner of the opening lead might be able to work out the situation. Take this uninformative auction and you get the 3 lead.


Declarer plays the Queen and you take with the King. Do you switch or do you continue?

Say partner led from J9832, then you must continue with diamonds. Say partner led from 9832 then it is likely that the killing switch is the 10. You just don't have the information to make a sensible decision.

OTOH say you play 2nd highest. Then:

From 9853 the lead would be the 8 from 9853 and now you know there is no future in playing diamonds and a heart switch could be a winner. (This would also be true for top-of-nothing leads.

When you get the lead of 5you know it will be from from the Jack. Given that attacking leads from 4 card suits are not usually attractive it becomes very likely that the lead is from Jxx(3)2. If it is from J9832 you know that you are going to break the contract.

OK I just plucked this deal out of my head and no doubt someone else can find a deal where after 1N-3N or similar, a low from anything except a doubleton is more informative. I just feel totally outside my comfort zone if my partner gives me such a lead.

I have just realised that some "smart ass" will tell me that you can play that the lead of a 9 promises a picture and the 8. So this is not the best example. :rolleyes:
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#17 User is offline   MrAce 

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Posted 2016-July-30, 07:58

View PostWackojack, on 2016-July-30, 05:23, said:

I have to say that leading low from any 4 (or even worse 3) gives me the creeps. No doubt that when the auction is more informative then partner of the opening lead might be able to work out the situation. Take this uninformative auction and you get the 3 lead.


Declarer plays the Queen and you take with the King. Do you switch or do you continue?

Say partner led from J9832, then you must continue with diamonds. Say partner led from 9832 then it is likely that the killing switch is the 10. You just don't have the information to make a sensible decision.

OTOH say you play 2nd highest. Then:

From 9853 the lead would be the 8 from 9853 and now you know there is no future in playing diamonds and a heart switch could be a winner. (This would also be true for top-of-nothing leads.

When you get the lead of 5you know it will be from from the Jack. Given that attacking leads from 4 card suits are not usually attractive it becomes very likely that the lead is from Jxx(3)2. If it is from J9832 you know that you are going to break the contract.

OK I just plucked this deal out of my head and no doubt someone else can find a deal where after 1N-3N or similar, a low from anything except a doubleton is more informative. I just feel totally outside my comfort zone if my partner gives me such a lead.

I have just realised that some "smart ass" will tell me that you can play that the lead of a 9 promises a picture and the 8. So this is not the best example. :rolleyes:


No,some smart ass will tell you that pd can not be leading 3 from J9832 because that makes NT opener to have opened with stiff . So yea, not only you did not come with best example, but an awful example.
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#18 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2016-July-30, 08:09

View PostWackojack, on 2016-July-30, 05:23, said:

I have to say that leading low from any 4 (or even worse 3) gives me the creeps. No doubt that when the auction is more informative then partner of the opening lead might be able to work out the situation. Take this uninformative auction and you get the 3 lead.

As others have pointed out, it is unusual to play BUM against NT and I do not think leading low from xxxx has even been mentioned. And it is easy to provide specific examples that cause issues for every scheme. The point is which gives the best chance of getting it right overall. There is no shortage of options - BUM, MUD, Top of Nothing, Slavinsky - and every reason to think that which is best will depend on both the contract and the rest of the lead system in use.
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#19 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2016-July-31, 23:24

View PostWackojack, on 2016-July-30, 05:23, said:

Say partner led from J9832, then you must continue with diamonds. Say partner led from 9832 then it is likely that the killing switch is the 10. You just don't have the information to make a sensible decision.

As someone else mentioned, it can't be a 5-card suit, since that would give declarer a singleton. So it has to be J983. You have an additional piece of information: if declarer had the J, he wouldn't play the Q from dummy, he would play low, so that if the lead had been from Kxxx(x), he could win with the J and later repeat the finesse.

Anyway, the question of what to lead from 3-4 small cards is mainly about suit contracts. In NT, BOSTON is pretty standard, although some like to lead 2nd highest from 4.

#20 User is offline   Kungsgeten 

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Posted 2016-August-01, 03:01

Versus suit contracts we play top of nothing, but low from two. This is inspired by Slawinsky leads. The idea is that a low card encourages continuation in the suit (we either have an honour, a doubleton or a singleton). This is combined with 3/5 leads from and honour. We give count the second time the suit is played.

Versus NT contracts we lead top of nothing. We try to give length the second time the suit is played. Compared to MUD the attitude is easier to read, but the length less so.

When partner has bid a suit which we havent't supported we lead 3/5 in that suit, regardless of honours and suit/no trump. We think that length is important here.

If one of us has bid a suit, and the other has supported it (lets call it a common suit), we lead low from an even number of small cards and high from an odd number of small cards. From an honour we lead third. Since the length is often known in the bidding, the idea is to show if you have an honour or not, and if you haven't then give length info.

When leading trumps we play that the lowest card is suit preference, while a higher card is natural. With 3+ trumps we can try to give suit preference for the highest suit by playing high->mid->low.
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