Has it occurred to you that, if you decide to lead from a three- card suit headed by an honour against no-trumps, the lead of the unsupported honour often works surprisingly well? For example, if you lead low from Q,3,2 and find dummy with K,10,9 and declarer with A,8,7, declarer can hardly fail to make three tricks in the suit. If you had led the queen, however, declarer would almost certainly have got matters wrong.

Consider West's lead problem on the above deal after North-South had bid, unopposed, 1!-2#; 2NT-3NT. A club lead would have worked well as the cards lie, but, preferring an unbid major to an unbid minor, West selected a spade - and he chose the king!

Confident that 4J would later prove an entry to dummy, declarer won with the ace and finessed the #Q. Suspecting the blockage in the suit, West won at once and led a heart to the ace. After cashing the #A, South confidently led a spade to the jack. Oh dear! It was East who won with the queen and cleared the suit. Now when 2K failed to provide the much-needed entry, South ended with only eight tricks.

And if West had chosen the more orthodox 46 for his opening lead? Dummy plays low and East is caught. If he takes his queen, declarer has two spade entries to the table and if he puts in his nine - his best shot - South wins with his ten and can simply play #A and #Q. Yes, West holds off but now !A can be sued to establish the diamonds and 4A is still there as an entry to enjoy them.

Game all; dealer South


4A J 8


#J 10 7 6 5 2

2K 8 7

West East

4K 7 6 4Q 9 3 2

!J 9 8 7 2 !10 3

#K 4 3 #9 8

26 2 2A J 10 5 3


410 5 4

!K Q 6 5 4

#A Q

2Q 9 4