ACBL07A – Defense: Opening Leads Acronyms    Ward Trumbull

                                                                                                                    Apr 15, 2012

                                                                                                                    Page 1 of 3


      Acronyms are used to help people remember things.  A typical acronym in bridge is ARCH, which is a declarer checklist that is used before playing to the first trick (see ACBL16).  Often we can recall the acronym that is appropriate in a given situation, but for the life of us, we can’t remember what the letters stand for.  With that in mind, let’s learn some words and phrases that can be used to help recall the rules of opening leads.  They are:

                                         The Words

           Notrump Leads                              Suit Leads

            -----------------------                       ----------------------------------

            FIST   TOTS                       STAMPS     T


Notrump Leads: “Never shake your FIST at your TOTS.”

Suit Leads:         “Collecting STAMPS fits you to a T.”


                 Leads Against Notrump Contracts



Notrump Contracts – FIST             |------ Priority   


                            Rule                          v                          Result

    -------------------------------------------           -------------------------------------------

  F -  Fourth longest and strongest     3    Must have an ace and/or face

                                                                   card(s) at the top.

                                                                   Partner must use the Rule of 11.

  I  -  Internal sequence                       2    Suit with 3 honors but 2nd  

                                                                                                         missing.  Lead your 2nd honor.   

   S -  Sequence, top of a                     1    3 in sequence or compliment 3

                                                                   of 4+ card suit   

                                                                   2 OK with 6+ cards in the suit.

  T - Top of nothing                             3     Hoping to hit partner’s suit.


       ACBL07A – Defense: Opening Leads Acronyms      Apr 15, 2012

                                                                                                                     Page 2 of 3


Notrump Contracts When Leading Partner’s Bid Suit - TOTS


                            Rule                                              Result

       -------------------------------------------------     --------------------------------------

      T - Top of nothing (no honors) from       Partner will then know where

             3+ cards in partner’s suit                  all the missing honors are.

      O - Only card in partner’s suit                 Partner must figure it’s ‘only’.

      T - Top of ANY 2 cards partner’s suit    Could be ace or face card.

      S - Small from an honor (A,K,Q,J)          Partner should take the trick

             from 3+ cards in partner’s suit          with highest card and lead the

                                                                      suit right back.



                 Leads Against Suit Contracts



Suit Contracts  - STAMPS                    |----- Priority

                               Rule                               v                    Comment

      --------------------------------------------------         -------------------------------------

      S - Small from ONE face card              2   For God’s sakes learn this

             (K,Q,J) of a  3+ card suit                      lead.     (BosTon)                                  

      T - Top of a sequence of a  3+ card      1   2+ honors in that sequence


      A - Ace from A x                                    1   If partner has the king, you

                                                                          will get a ruff.

                                                                          But not from Kx, Qx or Jx.  

     M  - MUD, middle-up-down                     3   With 3+ spot cards in

                                                                          partner’s suit

    P - Push trump with 2+ cards in trump   1    OK from A x x but not from

                                                                          a king or queen

                                                                          But never a singleton trump

     S - A singleton                                        1   From an ace is OK but not

                                                                          from K, Q or J.                         


 ACBL07A – Defense: Opening Leads Acronyms         Apr 15, 2012

                                                                                                                  Page 3 of 3


Suit Contracts When Leading Partner’s Bid Suit – T


                             Rule                                                Comment

   ---------------------------------------------------      ----------------------------------------

  T - Top card in partner’s suit                      Keep it simple.  You’re telling

                                                              partner “This is the

                                                              highest card I’ve got.”.                      


       NOTE: This a nice over simplification for a lead rule that actually gets

                   very complicated.  Start with this and then refine it with your