I trod the stairs to our rooms with a heavy heart and and a quandary. I made a mistake at cards the previous night and – so far – Holmes had not mentioned this. His silences terrify me. I opened the door and there he lounged with those wide open, red rimmed, glistening eyes and permanent smile.
“Holmes,” I blurted, “I cannot possibly apologise enough for my derogatory card play yesterday evening. Can you ever forgive me?”
“Dear boy, on the contrary,” Holmes sniffed deeply, “I, for once, cannot recall a single error of cardplay. Some misfortunes in the bidding perhaps, but…” . He waved an airy hand dismissing my concerns.
“But Holmes,” I rushed to explain. “I led the king of hearts – top of a sequence – when you had specifically told me to play the bottom card in such instances.”
Holmes had a fit of giggling and loudly blew his nose before continuing.
“Don't be an ass, Watson, really,…” he countered. “You may hold a sequence of any two or three cards at any time, mayn’t you? But your position in the order of play may vary. You may only be following suit to a card led by the opposition. When we defend the correct card to play will also vary depending on our position. For instance when declarer leads a card and you FOLLOW with the Queen I know two things: (1) you do not possess the Jack. (2) You may possess the King. This is because when you FOLLOW suit you play a sequence in ASCENDING order (Jack, Queen, King, Ace...)
However, when you are LEADING the first card to the trick you play from a sequence in DESCENDING order (Ace, King, Queen etc). When you played the King I knew either you held also the Queen, or that it was singleton. I was therefore able to base my defensive strategy on sound information not guesswork. So in this instance – as you were leading and not following – you were absolutely correct to play the King of Hearts. Absolutely.…”
I blushed and moved towards him. “Yes, it is a partnership game isn’t it. Holmes?”
"Indeed, but – emphasis on Game, Watson. Now, did you bring those new needles…?”
With these holdings lead the king:
KQJ, KQ10, KQxx
This is “top of a sequence”. However, when you follow suit, play the lowest card in a sequence, thus promising the touching cards above. You may feel all this gives away too much information to declarer. It is more important to give partner information than to withhold it from declarer. If you do not tell partner what you have, partner will have to guess and partner will ALWAYS guess wrong. Take away the guess whenever you can.