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A Reasoned Lead

You have no doubt been taught that you should look for a 4-4 major suit fit when partner opens 1NT and you have the values for game. Our opponents bid this hand on that premise and ended up in 4H by East. These were the hands and how the play went:

Board 25 from Thursday 21/06/2018.
Dealer N EW Vul

Against 4H by East, I had to decide what to lead. My theory is that leading from the queen, as in the club suit, was more likely to cost and also less constructive. If the club lead resulted in declarer or dummy making the jack, the queen would never make later. But if the diamond lead did not strike something in partner’s hand, the king still had a chance of making later. I always prefer to lead low from Kxxx rather than low from Qxxx. Maybe some expert might point out the folly of that theory. But be that as it may, I led the two of diamonds and partner won the ace.

He then switched to the seven of spades. That was a very transparent move and when I won the ace I had no trouble in returning the six, which partner ruffed. He then led a diamond to my king and I was able to give him a second spade ruff. Insult was added to poor declarer’s injury when partner exited with a club and dummy was end played with no exit that would prevent me from making my king of trumps. Down three and I felt so sorry for the hapless opponents. They had diligently located their 4-4 heart fit, normally exactly what you should look for.

Surprisingly, only a few Easts had played in 4H and they had received a low club lead. After that, the only sensible play is the ace and another heart, because a heart loser is certain even if you are able to start by leading the queen through South. That will result in 4H down one or two unless the defence allows it to make. Also, even more surprisingly, there were EW pairs in a part score in spades, and not many had bid to 4S at all.

What should West do when East opens 1NT? I would be inclined to just bid 4S immediately, there is enough for game and there are unlikely to be any more tricks in hearts even if there is a 4-4 fit. But the danger of a spade ruff in a heart contract must be a real one. Another alternative is to transfer to spades and then bid 4S.

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