The most obvious time is when partner has made a lead-directing double, showing strength, perhaps a tenace, in dummy's suit.

But even when partner hasn't doubled, there may be other reasons. For instance, if dummy has only a few high card points, forcing dummy to take its winners early may cause declarer "transportation" problems. If your hand lends itself well be being squeezed, hammering at dummy's high cards early may be a form of anti-squeeze defense.

If you have something obvious to do, like cash a long suit or lead partner's bid suit, you'd do that. But suppose you have scattered values and no bids by your side. What would make you lead dummy's suit? Are the reasons I listed in the last paragraph valid ones? And are there others that I have overlooked?

  • 3
    Are you trying to justify making a bad lead?
    – user6477
    Dec 31, 2013 at 4:51
  • @user6477: No, it's the other way. I'm trying to find out if this isn't a good lead that should be made more often. My theory is that if dummy has 6-8 hcps, (probably one entry in the bid suit, one side entry), you should try to attack those (scarce) entries.
    – Tom Au
    Dec 31, 2013 at 13:42
  • 1
    @TomAu: If you want to attack dummy's entries, you should be attacking the side suit entry, rather than attacking dummy's long suit. By playing dummy's suit, you are only letting declarer set up the suit, while maintaining a later entry to that suit. I suggest you try dealing out some hands to see if your theory works on a small sample first.
    – Aryabhata
    Dec 31, 2013 at 20:03

3 Answers 3


A couple of reasons

  1. You have a singleton in dummy's suit.
  2. You hold, say K8, in dummy's suit, and want declarer to commit to finesse in that suit/some other line (i.e. refusing the finesse), on the opening lead. You do this by leading the deceptive 8 (feigning singleton 8 or 8x). This has actually happened, with success, on real play.

The reason of cutting off dummy's communication is good, but unlikely to come up on the opening lead. Leading dummy's suit can lose a much needed tempo, especially when you are not even sure if the suit is solid etc.

Breaking up a squeeze on the opening lead? Well, if you can do that knowingly, you should play bridge for money :-) I guess it is theoretically possible, though.

  • Forgot about the singleton in dummy's suit, and the ruffing possibility. Good point. As for "breaking up a squeeze on the opening lead," I'm trying to design algorithms to recognize when this is likely to happen. See my reply to my commenter.
    – Tom Au
    Dec 31, 2013 at 13:46
  • 3
    @TomAu: Based on your questions so far, I would say this is a case of trying to run before you can crawl. Forget about the rare cases of trying to break up a squeeze on opening lead. I suggest you should concentrate on understanding the basics first, for eg: not setting up opponent's suits, not bidding unilaterally etc. Becoming a good player at bridge takes a long time. Wasting time on improbable rarities will only make that journey even longer. Apologies if that is not the case, and you are just trying to add some unique bridge related questions to this site.
    – Aryabhata
    Dec 31, 2013 at 20:07
  • I am trying to do original research. E.g. identifying hands in clusters, trying to find which are squeeze prone, which others lend themselves to a long suit game, etc. I've "backtested" this work on a small sample of hands from books, and need to enlarge the sample sizes in e.g. Monte Carlo simulations. As a mathematician, you probably understand what I'm trying to do.
    – Tom Au
    Jan 2, 2014 at 14:19
  • @TomAu: I see. Good luck. Don't forget to share with us, what you find!
    – Aryabhata
    Jan 7, 2014 at 22:14
  • Finding: You and I seemed to agree that it could be good for West to lead a singleton, (possibly a doubleton), for a potential ruff, while avoiding such leads with three of a suit. My mapping algorithms suggests that this could be a good lead if "anyone" (even partner or declarer) probably has a singleton, while a likely 4-3-3-3 distribution is bad for this kind of lead.
    – Tom Au
    Jan 26, 2014 at 18:39

One reason would be that declarer failed to support this suit (by definition, since they ended up in another contract), and so it is a reasonable inference that whatever honours dummy is missing are with your partner. If so, leading this suit early will usually gain. (Say dummy has AQ and your partner has the King; you win an extra trick. As Aryabhata pointed out, this can gain even if you have the King yourself.)

It's not a strong indication, and like most rules you have to use the information available before applying it, but 'lead through dummy's strength' is worth remembering for those who play by rules rather than by deduction.

  • Leading through dummy's strength is a bad rule IMO.
    – Aryabhata
    May 1, 2017 at 21:58

One such situation is when you have four or five cards in dummy's suit (in which he probably has four). Then either declarer or your partner is likely to be short in that suit (which creates entry or other problems for declarer). If declarer has a singleton, you've just knocked out his potential entry, perhaps before he's ready to use it, and if declarer has a doubleton (less likely than not), that's still somewhat true.

If declarer is "long" in dummy's suit with three or four cards, your partner will be short, and may be able to ruff. And as Aryabhata pointed out, if you have singleton or doubleton, YOU may be the one leading for a ruff.

A time to avoid doing this is when you have exactly three cards in dummy's suit. Then there's a good chance that the cards will be divided 4-3-3-3, which is all in the declarer's favor. It goes to the general principle of the defense playing safely when they have an "average" holding (e.g. three cards in dummy's suit or the trump suit), and aggressively when they have a "feature" (four or five cards in dummy's or declarer's suit, or conversely, shortness in a non-trump suit.

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