With neither side vulnerable at rubber, you are on lead against 3NT (1NT, 3NT bid).

I would refrain from doing the above with a Yarborough like

♠ 983
♡ 872
♢ 76432
♣ 85

Instead, I would lead one of the majors and hope to find partner's suit. Is this a good idea?

On the other hand, suppose I have

♠ J83
♡ Q72
♢ 76432
♣ K5

Would I still lead one of the majors because my suit and overall hand is too weak to lead fourth best from longest and strongest? (I have no probable and only two possible re-entries to my hand, and no high diamond. On the other hand, I have six high card points, nearly half of my partnership's total of 14 (assuming opponents bid 3NT with 26).

Note: In the actual example, the hand was

♠ J83
♡ Q72
♢ Q7632
♣ K5

and a lead of the 3 of diamonds worked well, but that's because the suit was headed by the Queen. Also, the extra two points means that I have 8 out of my partnership's presumed 14.

1 Answer 1


On the given auction, it is grossly incorrect to assume the Opponents have a bare minimum. You should assume they are holding 27-28 on average; and will make 10 tricks a good percentage of the time. They are quite unlikely to be going down unless:

  • you have a good suit and entries over Declarer; or

  • you have nothing and luck out finding Partner with a good suit in your lead, with entries, despite sitting under the Opponents' strong hand.

The latter is unlikely; and the former is ruled out by assumption.

Therefore: just lead Fourth best so as to minimize giving anything away.

One exception would be: Never lead away from Jxxx. If that's your one 4 card suit, then it's time to guess a three card suit.

The appropriate time for the analysis you are suggsting is on the invitational auction:
1NT Pass 2Nt Pass;
3NT all Pass

Now there is a reasonable chance of a set, and one can think about finding Partner's suit when holding a weak hand.

  • If I have Yarborough, there's a good chance that our partnership doesn't have 14 on the bidding, and even if partner did have it, the chances of setting the contract aren't very good because we have no transportation to my hand. Is that the point you were trying to make?
    – Tom Au
    Jan 22, 2023 at 16:49
  • 1
    Yeah but it's rubber, which I've never played. Is the payoff for setting the contract so large compared to the overtrick that it's worth going for it despite there being a very small chance? Jan 22, 2023 at 23:50
  • @AlexanderWoo: I've played Rubber; the strategy here is that, with no obvious lead, there isn't one as you're on a pure guess: perhaps there's a miracle lead; perhaps the contract is down unless you give it back on the opening lead; but most likely it's either on Declarer's 50-50 guess or cold. Partnership confidence that you're not taking flyers on a wing and a prayer, so (s)he can trust your defense, is far more valuable IMHO. Jan 23, 2023 at 2:32
  • @TomAu: Partly; but also that, a priori, Opener is more likely to be on 16 or 17 than just 15, by about 60-40, and Responder can have 11 or 12 instead of a bare 10. That makes these auctions much more likely to be cold unless you, on opening lead, can see a path to a set. With no obvious start, force Declarer to earn the tricks by not giving anything away. Jan 23, 2023 at 2:35

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