Devised by Mr. Sydney Rusinow, and applied at the bridge table with his friends and partners, Mr. Philip Abramsohn and Mr. Simon Rossant, in the 1930s. Although the leads were original and unique, the ACBL, for undisclosed reasons, declared them illegal and barred the use of this principle at ACBL sanctioned tournaments until 1964, whereupon the ban was lifted.
The principle behind Rusinow Leads is simply the leading of the second-ranking of touching honors. Rusinow Leads are used only on the first trick against a suit contract in a suit, which the partner has not bid during the auction, if at all. It is uncommon to employ the Rusinow Leads also against a No Trump contract since the purpose of the lead against a No Trump contract is entirely different in nature, but it is not illegal. Anything on this page that is red was entered as modifications by the local webmaster. It should be noted that many top level players use these leads against NT as well as against suits, But if you use the Ace asks for Attitude, King asks for Count and Queen asks you to play your highest honor or give count with no honor you cannot use it against NT.
Since the 1930s represented the era of the transition from Whist to Contract Duplicate, many innovations had to be considered and many traditional playing strategies had to be re-arranged and redefined. It was quite normal practice for the defenders to lead the King against a contract, when holding the Ace and King of the same suit. It was also quite standard for the defender to lead the King against a contract, when holding the King and Queen of the same suit. This standard practice sometimes led to unusual situations where the partner of the defender was uncertain as to the better play, since the partner was uncertain as to whether his partner had the Ace or the Queen after leading the King.
The ambiguity of the lead becomes apparent. If West has the King/Queen, East will wish to play the Jack of Spades and encourage West at the same time. However, if West has the Ace/King, then East will wish to play the 3, so that West will choose to change to another suit. If South, the declarer, holds the Queen-9-8-x, a continuation will give South at least one winner in this suit.
In the early days of bridge, defenders were looking for new ways to impart information and to try new strategies. The attempt at leading the Ace from an Ace/King, promising the King, proved unsatisfactory, since leading a single Ace against a suit contract seemed prudent and in hindsight the only lead that would defeat the suit contract. It was concluded that one problematic situation was exchanged for a second problematic situation, and it was not quite clear, which principle should be more favored, or if a new principle should be created for the defense.
Mr. Sydney Rusinow came up with a solution, which was first endorsed by Mr. Ely Culbertson. However, the solution did not gain very much favor and popularity by the bridge community. The solution was to lead the second highest from touching honors, such as leading the King from Ace/King and Queen from King/Queen and Jack from Queen/Jack.
The main principles of the Rusinow Leads are as follows: Everything is red was entered as modifications by the local webmaster
1. Ace: this lead denies the King, except when holding the Ace-King as a doubleton.
2. King: this lead is from Ace-King. The third hand should signal for continuation with the Queen or a doubleton.
3. Queen: this lead is from King-Queen. The third hand should normally signal with the Ace or Jack, but not with a doubleton if the dummy contains three or four small cards of the same suit. This may be to avoid a Bath Coup, whereby the declarer could possible be holding the Ace-Jack-x, and thereby cash two tricks.
4. Jack: this lead is from Queen-Jack.
4.1. Ten: this lead is from Jack-Ten. But we play this shows 2 or none higher after the opening lead.
4.2. Nine: this lead is from Ten-Nine. But we play this shows 2 or none higher after the opening lead.
These leads complement the MUD lead convention, in which the original lead is from three small cards. The first is the Middle card, followed by the higher card, followed by the lower card, when holding only three cards in that suit, or Middle, Up, Down. But we don't play MUD leads. They muddy the picture for partner.
5. In the case that more than two touching honors are held, and a lead has to be made, the card representing the second-highest honor is led. For example, from King-Queen-Jack, the Queen is led. The second card from this sequence, which is then led, is the Jack. The third hand knows that his partner holds the King of that suit.
A Short Summary of Rusinow Leads:
Card Lead Card Combination Ace Denies the King unless the holding is an AK doubleton. King Lead from AK. Partner may/should unblock the Queen, if held. Queen Promises KQ or longer sequence. Jack Promises QJ or longer sequence. Ten Promises J10 or longer sequence. But we play this shows 2 or none higher after the opening lead. Nine Promises 109 or longer sequence. But we play this shows 2 or none higher after the opening lead. Middle-Up-Down The play of a higher second card shows an odd number of cards in that suit. But we don't play MUD leads Up-Down A high-low play promises and even number of cards in that suit. But we play Upside-down leads
Rusinow Leads gave the partner information about the holding, but the Rusinow Leads are used only on the first trick against a suit contract. This fact is very important to remember concerning the communication with the partner. After the first trick, it is important to remember that the highest card should be led from touching honors. This is true whether the lead if from either of the hands of the defenders.
An important side note: the Rusinow Leads were originally devised for use against a suit contract. The experiment was made to use this lead also against a No Trump contract, and the experiment failed miserably, since the purpose of a lead against a No Trump contract is different than against a suit contract. The information needed by the partner is whether the partner has led from his longest suit, and not where his honors are located.
Whether or not Rusinow Leads should be part of the partnership agreement must be considered by the individual partnership. The advantages are obvious and they are presently accepted as a form of defense by the ACBL and most other bridge governing bodies around the world.