Here are Some Tips for Defending Against a Contract
The Opening Lead
- Choose the suit to lead.
- Choose a specific card from that suit (see page 2 on opening leads)
If you are the second hand to play to a trick. Declarer had led from dummy and you are next to play or declarer had led from his or her hand and you are next to play.
- If the lead is a low card, it is usually best to play your lowest card. Your partner will play last on this trick and partner will be in the best position to know what to do.
- If an honor card is played and you have a higher honor card, it is best to cover the honor played with your honor card. For example if a Q is led from dummy and you have the K of that suit, you should usually play your K on the Q. If declarer has the ace, it will cost declarer two honors to capture your one. Cover an honor with an honor.
If you are the third hand to play. In this case your partner has led.
- If partner has led a winner or a card that is likely to win, you should usually play low from your hand.
- Otherwise, you should usually play the highest card that you think can win the trick. Third hand high. but only as high as necessary
Partner 5 You
4 3 K
Partner leads the four, declarer calls for the 3 from dummy, you are playing third hand. You should play the jack not the king. You will try to save your king to play on the queen. If your jack forces declarer's ace, partner will conclude that you may have the king. Of course if declarer hand called for the queen from dummy you would play your king.
Here's another third-hand case.
Partner 5 You
J 3 K
Partner leads the jack, declarer calls for the 3 from dummy. You should play the 9 from your hand. Declarer will win the trick with the ace, but partner will know that you have the king and will play accordingly when next she gains the lead.
THESE ARE SIMPLY GUIDELINES, NOT ABSOLUTES. AS YOU GAIN EXPERIENCE YOU WILL RECOGNIZE EXCEPTIONS.