♠ 10 7 4
♥ 7 4 2
♦ 10 4
♣ Q J 6 3 2
Q: 5 - What do you think?
A: ♣Q. Here you have a fair chance of setting up tricks in your long suit if partner has some Club values.
Despite having no side-suit entry to your hand, you could still run the Club suit if partner has the right cards, because you have two honors in the suit. It’s true that a Club lead could easily give away a trick, but the advantages of it far outweigh the downsides.
If you had a short holding (singleton or doubleton) in a major, then you may consider leading that suit because partner could easily have five cards there. However, you have three low in each major and there’s not much to be gained even if partner does have length in the major suits.
A Diamond lead is a bit of a gamble, especially seeing as there’s no sign that partner has five cards there (the same inference for major suit leads doesn’t apply to minor suit leads because the opponents don’t/can’t investigate minor suit fits) and the Ten could be a key card in that it could take away a guess for declarer or could pick up the suit completely (e.g. if partner holds the Queen over the King-Jack in dummy with the Ace and Nine in declarer’s hand).
A Club lead will work wonders if partner has Club values. Even if he doesn’t have length you could be picking up dummy’s honor. In this way it’s best to scorn the natural lead of a low card from this suit (if you had the Nine or Ten then the Queen would be better, but from Q J x x x or Q J x x a low one is more likely to work), because the main benefit of leading a low one is to not block the suit when partner has H x, but here if partner has H x then it doesn’t matter if you block the suit – you’ll never get in again either way.
The lead of the Queen is preferable, for it could crush dummy’s King and it will enable partner to place the honors and thus gain a more precise count of the hand.
When you find yourself on lead against 3NT with a very poor hand, as a general principle try and find your partner’s long suit. Consider these factors:
- On the auction 1NT-3NT or the like, partner is more likely to have major suit length than minor suit length
- If you have a short holding in a major, then that’s likely to be partner’s five card suit
- Leading from short holdings in minor suits could work just as well, but are less likely to, and could easily expose the suit to declarer
- Leading your own long suit is a good idea if you think you can establish it and if you have entries, either in or outside your suit, to cash the winners later. If not then try to lead partner’s suit
- With equal length in the suits you’re thinking of leading, compare the advantages and disadvantages of each lead. In general if there’s a much bigger upside to one lead then select that suit, but if the upside isn’t much greater, try the more passive option
- Leading from sequences could serve to pick up dummy’s honors underneath partner’s tenace
- Leading from three low cards is more attractive than four low cards, but leading from H x x x is much more appealing than H x x, as you only need partner to have honors for the lead to work, not necessarily length, and if partner does have length your lead will be more effective if you have length as well
Your result so far: