I believe that this blunder was appropriately named by Natty Bumppo who noted that it is especially common online.
In this example, Hearts have been named trump by the dealer and this hand is being played by the defender in first seat. The big mistake comes during the opening lead when he plays the right bower.
Obviously, the right will certainly win a trick and thus stop the opponents from scoring two points no matter when it is played.
The problem is, it won't likely take any strength out of the opposition's hands by leading it, but instead cost his partner a trump (possibly a lonely left bower) that could have set up a possible euchre.
It seems obvious that this card would be more valuble if held out of play until the opponents attempt to establish trump.
"Leading trump is risky if you are defenders, however, for it is probably your opponents who have the most trump, and the highest; and you may be helping them catch a high trump from your partner. But it is not tabu to lead trump on defense, especially when the power is to your left."
When a player first learns the game of euchre, they are often told (or soon find out the hard way) that it is not a good idea to lead trump when the other team has ordered. A little experience will prove this is to be true the majority of the time.
However, there are some situations where a trump lead from defense is exactly what it takes to score a euchre. This could be the play that will make the difference in a close game.
Instead of diving right into right into scenarios that favor a trump lead, let us first examine some glaring examples of when NOT to lead trump on defense and WHY.
- Unguarding the Left
In this example, we'll also assume that the dealer picked up a heart and this hand is held by the defender in first seat. In this case, leading either trump would be a major blunder for multiple reasons.
Perhaps most importantly, the player guilty of this infraction is throwing away a chance to take a sure trick. The left bower is "guarded" by the nine as long as they are both kept in hand. Once either is led, they are both likely to be taken, giving the opponents the possibility of a sweep that should have otherwise been avoided.
- "too much"
This hand is good for two tricks in Hearts and the ace of Clubs might walk, making it a hand with great potential for setting the maker. Some players will just lead them out in order, right, left, ace. This is not a good thing to do.
For one thing, the dealer picked up a Heart without having a bower, meaning that he very likely (of course not positively) has three small trump. It would be a shame to have that side ace taken by the third remaining trump in the dealer's hand, only to be followed by some off-suit that walks.
What would probably work better with this hand is a lead from one of the "x" cards that might allow your partner a chance to take a trick thus ensuring a euchre. The "x" also may draw one of the three possible trumps in the maker's hand, bringing his total down to two, and you can cover both.
With these three common situations in mind, one can clearly see why many players tell beginners not to lead trump on defense. When players lead trump at the wrong time, it will very often help the opponents to make their point and sometimes even allow them to score two that they otherwise shouldn't have.
Other reasons NOT to lead trump on defense include;
1. The maker is to your right - If the player who did the ordering is sitting to your right, generally you do not want to lead trump (note all three examples above). The player who ordered trump usually has the most and the highest trump. Remember that when you lead, he gets to play last.
2. You have a guarded left bower - (second example above) - Make sure that your team at least takes a trick before you consider blowing your sure stopper. There are times not to lead trump even if you hold left-ace-x.
3. They ordered the right bower - Don't do them any favors. Unless you have the next four or five trump (in which case it doesn't probably matter what you do anyway), don't lead trump!
So, wait a minute. Isn't this supposed to be a strategy section in favor of leading trump on defense?
Yes and No. Most of the time no.
Let's take a look at some situations where the defensive trump lead might be favorable.
1. The player to your left orders the ace or king - The theory is that the maker does not know where the left bower is, therefore your trump lead will force out his right and possibly also take out his partner's ace (or king) in the process, thus promoting your remaining trump to boss.
2. You hold a singleton trump with (at least) two side aces - This may be your only chance of euchre if the opponents ordered trump with a thin holding. The scenario seems to have a much better chance when the opponents ordered "reverse next" (see The K-9 Kicker) where it is likely that the maker is multi-suited with a small trump holding.
3. The dealer (to your right) has picked up the right bower without being ordered ... and you hold left - ace (or even better, left - ace - x) and at least two outside aces (preferably both of the opposite color). This lead is an exception to the theory that you shouldn't lead trump on defense when the maker is to your right. Although the dealer has picked up the right, he can't have much length in trump, considering yours. Your pupose is to strip his partner and prevent his partner from taking a cheap shot at one of your aces. Note: you have to lead high enough to force out the dealer's right bower.
I would like to point out that the examples above are all situations regarding the opening lead on defense. There are many more situations that come up during a hand that would make a defensive trump lead seem much more feesable.
As far as the opening lead goes, there seems to be many more reasons not to lead trump for the defensive team. The factors that always need to be considered are; do I have a guarded left, who made trump and where (right or left), what was ordered or turned down, what I have, what the score is, etc.
The subject could probably fill an entire book. But instead of delving that deep into this, I'm going to leave you with the above suggestions and theories and hope that you will apply it to your own game the way you feel it works best for you.