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Vulnerable versus not, and sitting West, I held (s) AQ54 (h) K3 (d) T85 (c) KT87. With North opening the bidding, and West and East passing throughout, the bidding went:

North South
1 spade 2 diamonds
3 clubs 3NT.

I actually led the d5, which seemed like the safest lead, but got us a bottom on the board at matchpoint duplicate. It crossed my mind to make the "bold" lead of the low card of the unbid (heart) suit, but felt that it was too bold. With the benefit of hindsight, I thought about leading one of dummy's bid suits, rather than declarer's, probably the c7. Could this be a good idea under the circumstances?

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    Was 2D game forcing? Did 3C show extra strength? What was the form of scoring? Also, it would be good to see the whole hand so we can tell if the diamond lead caused the bottom. Dec 5, 2022 at 14:11

2 Answers 2

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You're looking to find Partner's J; though possibly a Q, and possibly a measly T. So what you are looking at is most likely all prospects for the defense, and you're endplayed at opening lead; except Declarer doesn't know that yet. No way I'm leading a Diamond to set up closed hand's (likely 5 card) Diamond Suit; Partner has no entry to Hearts even if they set up; and my Spades are all on side. So yes, I'm definitely leading a Club on this auction.

Which one is harder to judge; but since I dread seeing the 9 come down in Dummy the Club 8 is hitting the table in tempo. Play to Trick 1 may be the only meaningful decision Partner has on this hand, so I want to make that as easy as possible to get right.

There being no safe suit to lead on this hand, I don't see any reason to distinguish between Pairs and Team play in this case. I'm just hoping to pull a fast one on Declarer quickly before he learns anything about our hands.

The above is premised on a Yellow Card-ish bidding system with 2D being 2-over-1 Forcing and 3C showing either length or strength in the suit but likely not both. I expect 5-3-2-3 or 5-2-2-4 distribution to come down in Dummy and Declarer to have something like 2-3-5-3.

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While understanding opponent's bidding agreements is pretty important to give advice for this specific hand, the answer to the question you ask in your title is "yes, it can be." Let's look at a few examples.

You hold Axx xxxxx xx xxx. RHO deals and opponents have the following uncontested auction:

     1D
1H   1S
2C   2H
2S   3D
3S   4D
4H   4NT
5C   5S

Under opponents' agreements, RHO has shown something like 4=3=5=1 shape with good diamonds and extras, while LHO has shown 4-4 or 4-5 in the majors with a heart control and extras. LHO has also shown one keycard. Looking at your hand and listening to the auction, partner likely has the club A and a heart singleton or void, and nothing else. To defeat this contract, you'll need a heart ruff. Lead a heart, win the first round of trumps, and continue a heart. Partner will get a ruff and cash the setting trick in the club ace.

Now imagine the same auction, but you hold xx x xxxx Axxxxxx. Lead a heart hoping that partner holds the hand above.

OK, so those two hands show that one reason to lead dummy's suit is to set up a ruff.

OK, now you hold xxx Kxxx xxxx Kx. The auction is

LHO  Ptnr  RHO  You
           1C    P
 1S   P    2NT   P
 3NT  X   all pass

Partner's double asks you to lead dummy's first-bid suit, so lead a spade.

Now you hold xx xxx KQJT9 Axx. LHO deals and opponents have the following uncontested auction:

1D  1H
1S  1NT
3NT

Lead a diamond. You expect to collect 4 diamonds and the club ace.

Now you hold Ax KQJT QTx J9xx. The opponents have a Smolen auction:

    1NT
2C  2D
3H  3NT

LHO has shown 5 spades and 4 hearts. Lead a heart to attack dummy's entry. With luck, dummy is something like KQJTx Axxx xxx x. You can hold up the spade ace one round and watch partner's play to figure out which minor you can safely lead away from (perhaps partner has the club Q or ten, or the diamond J or K). Then declarer will be forced to play the minors from their hand, eventually giving you the setting trick.

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