Most euchre instructional texts place an inordinate emphasis on the first lead of any particular hand. Yet there are many situations where the fourth lead is equally or more important.
The fourth trick play often proves pivotal. Get it wrong and you could be giving up an extra point or even putting your overall success in jeopardy. The first priority in any bid is to make a point. However, once your point is secure it's time to try for that second point.
Fourth tricks are especially challenging because there are many different scenarios that could arise. Most of them are played slightly different. This requires paying close attention to each card played. When your opponents name trump you have to pay even closer attention. Often what you do on the fourth trick can be the difference between them making their point or possibly being euchred.
One of the most common mistakes is leading trump on the fourth trick at the wrong time. This is an error made by both novice and experienced players alike. In a game where every point counts, a single point can make the difference between winning and losing. Again, it is imperative that you pay close attention to every card played. Here are some of the things you should be watching for. Did your partner show they had a trump on a prior trump lead? Do you hold the boss trump? Is your last card a boss? If you trump in, what are the chances your partner can take the last trick?
I'm sure many of you have been told never to lead trump on the fourth trick and generally speaking, that's true. However, not always.
The best way for us to show what happens when trump is led on trick four with a series of examples. We will start with the one below. On page 2 of this set, we show another hand where not leading trump results the bidding team making 2 points. Nevertheless, most readers of this site realize it's never quite that simple. On pages 3 and 4 we'll talk about the correct times to lead trump on the fourth trick.
So far we have been talking about what to lead, however, there will be those times you find yourself in a situation where you need to decide whether or not to take the fourth trick. Here is where it starts to get tricky. While in most cases you will want to take the fourth trick, there will be times when it is best to leave it up to your partner. We cover these on pages 5, 6 and 7.
The dealer sits in the South position and turns up the king of hearts. West passes and North orders their partner to pick it up. The dealer(S) discards the 9 of diamonds.
West leads the king of spades. North and East follow suit. South takes the trick with the 9 of hearts. The bidding team has taken their first trick with one trump played.
Now South leads the right, East shows void in trump, and the maker(N) plays the queen. West also shows void in trump. Note that both opponents show void in trump. (As the dealer was ordered up by their partner(N), leading the right was the correct play for South.) The bidding team is now two tricks in and three trump have been played.
After leading the right, South leads a junk 9 of clubs. West plays the ace of clubs, (showing his partner he has the king). The maker trumps in with the ace and West follows the club lead with the queen. The bidding team now has their third trick and a guaranteed point. Four trump have been played.
But now the maker(N) leads the left. This pulls South's remaining trump and destroys their partner's chance to help. Note that after their lead, bidder still holds a low diamond in their hand and that the diamond suit has not yet been lead - not a likely winner. This play costs them an extra point, a point they may need at the end of the game.
Remember: euchre is a partnership game, and your partner is there to help. But that's only if you give them the chance.
I received a comment that stated 'People lead trump on forth so opponents hopefully choose to throw away the wrong cards that would beat their 'looser' fifth card'
While it may work, many times that last card will a suit that hasn't been played yet. The question then becomes 'Are you willing to bet a point on your opponents discarded that suit' or on 'your partner still has trump'.