Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Leads of Kings and Queens in No-Trump ***+

What should you lead from KQTx in no-trump?  What about KQT9?  KQTxx?  KQT9x? KQTxxx?  If partner leads a king, do you show count or attitude?  What if she leads a queen?  These are things to discuss with your partners. 

Most expert partnerships have the agreement that if one partner leads a queen, the other must drop the jack if he has it, since declarer will most always duck holding AJx(x) and the opening leader needs to know whether or not to continue the suit.  So if the leader doesn't see the jack, he will know not to continue.  They also have the agreement that when partner leads a king, you show attitude.  If partner leads the queen and you don't have the jack, you give attitude. 

Therefore, they lead the queen whenever they think it is safe for partner to drop the jack, but the king whenever they are unsure whether it is safe.  The queen is led when holding KQT9 or KQT9x or  KQTxxx.  With KQTxx, it is less clear, but most experts lead the queen from this holding as well.   With KQTx, however, most experts lead the king since it is more likely that declarer will hold A9xx.  In this case, they will continue the suit if partner encourages.

Follow-up plays once you drop a jack are less often discussed.  But agreements are useful here as well.  Suppose that partner leads the queen, dummy has a singleton 4, and you hold J973.  You duly play the jack, and declarer plays the 6.  Now partner continues with the king.  Which card do you play? 

If your partner would lead the queen from KQTxx, you should give present count on the second round.  If you are playing standard count signals, you should play the three, showing an odd number.  If you play upside down count signals, play the 9.  Partner will have to work out whether you started with 2 or 4.   A good declarer will try to disrupt these signals by falsecarding, but you have to do the best you can.  You should be confident that you won't give declarer a trick by signalling with the 9, since he had to have started with Axx.

It gets more dicey when partner leads the queen and you hold J9x.  Now, playing the 9 may give up a trick if declarer started with, say, A865 and his 6 was a falsecard.  Here there is no sure answer; if you don't play the 9, partner, with KQT8x, may fear that declarer has A965 and not continue this suit losing a valuable tempo.   But if you do, partner may hold KQT52 and declarer A86x.

Good luck!


Len said...

In "standard" carding, the queen demands the jack or attitude, since count won't be that interesting when I lead from QJx.

Bob Klein said...

Len, you are correct. I fixed it. Thanks for pointing it out.