Making a Trump Lead

Is it ever right to lead a trump if you are playing the first card?  Instinctively we usually shy away, preferring to keep our trump cards in the hope of making tricks later in the game.

When might it be helpful to make a trump lead?

Analyse the bidding.  Does it seem that the opposition might be hoping to ruff tricks because dummy is long on trumps?  If so, a trump lead could be a good attacking lead, reducing the number of trump cards held by dummy and so reducing the ability to take tricks later in the game.

It’s easy, as the defending side, to assume that there is little you can do to change the course of the game, and that the number of tricks you take depends entirely on how the declarer plays.  This is wrong – the opening lead can be crucial and can alter the course of the game, allowing your side to defeat the contract.

So it is worth analysing the bidding closely to see if a trump lead by you could result in extra tricks.

Some situations where leading a trump could be positive

Opener bids a major suit (say 1 heart) and responder raises the same suit to the 3 level.  A bid like this often indicates that responder is counting shortage points and so may have length in hearts and a shortage elsewhere.  Opener will be hoping to take advantage of this shortage by ruffing tricks in dummy.

Another common situation that might make you decide to lead with a trump is when responder has given preference to opener’s first suit when bidding is below game level.  For example, suppose the bidding has gone like this.  1 H by opener and then 1S by responder.  Opener then bids 2 D and responder passes.  By passing responder is showing preference for opener’s second suit.  It is likely that responder is short in the first suit and has greater length in second suit.  Again leading a trump here will reduce the ability for opener to trump tricks in dummy.

If you have made a takeout double and partner has passed. If responder has also passed, your partner is showing that he is long and strong in trumps.  There is little that opener can do.  As opener’s partner passed, she cannot bid again.  Your partnership has the advantage.  Lead trumps.

There are several other situations where a trump lead is appropriate and these are explained in Detail on the No Fear Bridge site.  Join today to learn more about trump leads and to practice your acol bridge bidding and play.

If you want to know more about making a trump lead in American Standard Bridge, read about trump leads on