Declarer bids 1NT, dummy 3NT, all pass.

Partner leads the Q of a suit in which I hold Jxxx. S/he would not do this without holding one (but not both) of the adjacent cards, and must have the King because I have the Jack. Partner will also have the T in a KQT sequence. Dummy plays its low singleton.

At this point, I would play the Jack so that partner knows that declarer started with Axx, and that KQTxx will take four out of five tricks in the suit without interference from the jack.* Does this play make sense?

I did not refer to vulnerability because I don't believe that it is a factor in this (play) situation. Is this non-reference correct, or does vulnerability matter?

*Partner will have five cards in the suit unless the longest suit in the hand is four cards. That is, partner would lead fourth best from xxxxx rather than from KQTx, with two possible "re-entry" cards to use the long suit.

  • 1
    Standard is to lead Q from KQT9(x) but K from KQTx(x) - precisely so that you don't have this problem with Jx or Jxx. Jun 7, 2022 at 15:05

2 Answers 2


You have described the standard agreement for so-called "power leads" vs no trump. This article on power leads goes into some depth on the topic, but the key is this:

Standard leads against no trump from a nearly-running suit are A from a suit headed by AK (e.g. AKJT, AKJxxx), and Q from a suit headed by KQ (e.g. KQT9, KQTxx). When partner makes such a lead (the "power lead"), you are expected to drop an honor if you hold it, and otherwise to signal count. This tells partner whether it is safe to continue to play on the suit, or if they must exit so that you may lead through declarer to pick up the missing honor.

From worse suits, such as KQTx, KQ9xx, AKJx, etc, partner would lead the K to ask for your attitude -- do you have an honor in the suit or not?

Note that I have described the standard lead, but that it is increasingly popular to agree that K is the power lead, and A or Q the attitude lead. This agreement has a nice mnemonic: K for kount/unblock, A for attitude. It is worth discussing with a new partner to make sure you are on the same page.


This depends on whether your partner has a solid early reentry, whether you have a good entry, and what your signalling conventions are.

You are confident that your partner started with KQTxx, and thus declarer holds Axx of this suit.

Above all you want partner to continue this suit. discarding the jack might do that, depending on your agreements, but another possibility is to play your most encouraging card that is not the jack. If partner leads low to your jack, you can play your jack. If declarer wins with the Ace, declarer will have no stop left in the suit, and if either of you get in, you will get your four tricks in this suit, plus one entry trick, setting the contract by at least one. If you discard the jack and partner continues high, much the same result occurs.

However, if there is any chance that your partner holds the KQ9xx you must get partner to lead low to you jack on the second trick. if you discard the jack, declarer will make both Ace and the Ten, a possibly vital trick for declarer.

With a 4-card suit there is no need to worry about immediate unblocking as long as you don't hold the jack until the 4th round. They key issue is to signal partner to continue, either with an honor or a low card. If partner continues the suit, and either s/he or you have a prompt re-entry, your side is assured of four tricks in the suit. Once declarer wins the Ace, whichever member of your side gets back in first can continue the suit, and your partner's remaining cards in the suit should run. As long as declarer cannot collect nine winners before letting your side back in, the contract should go down.

If you play a low card at trick 1, and partner continues with a low card in the suit, play the jack at trick 2 and continue the suit if it is allowed to hold. If partner plays the king at trick 2, drop the jack on it (if yu didn't play it at trick 1).

What would your partner lead from KQ9xx? Why does your partner lead the Queen from KQTxx anyway? the standard lead here is the King, I believe.

  • I belong to a school of thought that with a broken sequence, one should lead the top card of the "break," that is, Q from QT. The lead of the Q implies a sequence of KQT (upper adjacent card) or QJT, which is ruled out because I have the jack. Otherwise, Q from KQT encourages me to lead into the KT "tenace" if declarer has the jack instead of me. Except by prior agreement, partner would not lead Q from a "two-gapped" KQ9. The normal lead would be fourth highest from KQ9x or KQ9xx.
    – Tom Au
    Jun 6, 2022 at 0:03
  • The standard lead from KQ9xx is the K, and from KQTxx is the Q, exactly so that partner can disambiguate between these two important types of holding.
    – ruds
    Jun 6, 2022 at 2:41
  • I'm not sure that "standard" is the case there - it seems to me at least very common that KQxxx where the first X is not a ten that you lead fourth.
    – Joe
    Jun 6, 2022 at 20:56

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