Photo of book cover

Opponents reach a 3 Notrump contract after partner has opened the bidding with 1H. What do you lead from:

  1. S J74  H T5  D Q8642  C K73
  2. S K63  H 94  D J7532  C Q64
  3. S A72  H 83  D J8653  C Q82
  4. S JT8642  H 5  D K73  C Q72
  5. S QJT74  H 84  D K63  C 953
  6. S KJ742  H 6  D K72  C 8742

 These hands come from the classic book Card Play Technique by Victor Mollo and Nico Gardiner (2013, p130). They note on the previous page:

"Other things being equal, it is usually best to lead partner's suit. But other things are not always equal. If South bids 3NT after East bid or overcalls 1H, he is clearly prepared for the suit to be opened against him. If East doubles the contract, West has little choice. The double is a command. West is ordered to lead a heart. Presumably East's suit is as good as H KQJT63 or H AQJT4, and needless to say, East possesses and entry. So if he does not double, he is unlikely to have that much. Therefore with a singleton or worthless doubleton, there is a perfectly good temptation not to take partner too seriously. Don't bend over backwards to to lead his suit.

Can you think of anything better? That is the whole point. With nothing in partner's suit and S QJT84 or S QJ973 and an entry of some sort, forget anything partner ever said. But well-thought-out forgetfulness must not be confused with amnesia. Without a decent suit, and more especially without an entry, try to oblige partner. And show greater respect for an overcall than for an opening. The reason is that an overcall may have less high-card strength, but the suit itself must be more solid, or less threadbare. To open on H Q7642 would pass muster in a cathedral city. To overcall on anything so flimsy would be considered shocking in Montmartre.

In weighing up the situation, be guided by the entry position. There is no future in setting up a suit if you never get in to make it." 

And the authors think you should have led your partner's hearts in the first three of the six hands above and led a spade in the last three.

This book, first published in 1955 and revised in 2013, rewards reading and is available in the Club library.