In the quarter-finals of the open trials, you have to decide the best way to handle a major 2-suiter.
N-S vul, East deals. As West, you hold:
1♣: Could be a doubleton -- 1♦ would show an unbalanced hand.
Your takeout double style is strongly oriented towards equal-level conversion. If you double and partner bids 1♦ or 2♦, a 2♥ call by you would show no extra strength and would be non-forcing. Consequently, partner will assume you don't have 4 spades if you overcall 1♥.
Clearly you are worth some action. As mentioned earlier, overcalling 1♥ risks losing a 4-4 spade fit. If partner weren't a passed hand, that risk might not be worth taking, so a takeout double with your style looks attractive. But since partner is a passed hand, you aren't concerned about game. You just want to compete in your best partial, and you will probably need a good fit in order to compete to the 3-level. Therefore, it looks better to overcall 1♥ and forget about the spade suit. If partner doesn't fit hearts, you are probably done.
You bid 1♥. The bidding concludes:
1♠: Fewer than 4 spades, like a negative double for the minors.
Your lead. Ace from AK, king is your power lead, lower honors are Rusinow. If leading a spot card, you play attitude leads.
There is a big difference between leading a 5-card suit and leading a 4-card suit vs. 3NT. The 5-card suit may defeat the contract on sheer length, while when you lead the 4-card suit and strike gold that will often amount to only 4 defensive tricks. It is usually right to avoid leading from broken 4-card suits unless you believe there is a decent chance that you will be hitting partner's 5-card suit. On this hand partner failed to show a weak two in a major at first seat favorable, and you play a very aggressive weak-two style. While this doesn't eliminate the possibility of his holding 5 spades, it cuts down on the chances of a spade lead hitting partner with a good 5-card spade holding.
There are two good reasons why a spade lead might be better. One is that partner failed to double 3♥, which would certainly be a lead-directing double. He heard you overcall 1♥, so with the ♥K or ♥Q he probably would have doubled 3♥. Additionally partner didn't raise, so if he has 3 hearts he won't have much else. Of course a heart lead could still be the winner. Partner might have ♥10x and declarer ♥KQx. However, partner's failure to double 3♥ makes it less likely that a heart lead will be successful.
The second argument for a spade lead is that you have the ♥A. To see why this makes a difference, suppose instead your heart holding is ♥KJxxx. Let's say you lead a spade and find partner with ♠Kxxx. That's 3 spade tricks for the defense. Partner will need a minor-suit stopper which is fast enough to prevent declarer from running 9 quick winners. That stopper is the fourth defensive trick. But the fifth defensive trick just isn't there. However, with your actual heart holding the fifth defensive trick is ready to be cashed. This is a subtle point which few players understand. The reason leading a 4-card suit usually doesn't defeat 3NT on power is that the lead only establishes 4 defensive tricks even when it is successful. However, if you have an ace in a suit which declarer won't be setting up, that ace will provide the fifth defensive trick. So when the lead from the 4-card suit strikes gold, there will be 5 defensive tricks.
The conclusion appears to be that a spade lead is best. But your job isn't done yet. You still have to determine which spade to lead. Might it be right to lead the ace?
Leading the ace has two advantages. First of all, it gives you a chance to take a look at dummy. It is easier to defend when you can see 26 cards than when you can see 13. If you can see that declarer has spades double-stopped you may still be able to shift to a heart (or even a diamond) in time. But if you lead a low spade and it is necessary to attack a red suit, you will not be able to recover.
More important, it is possible that declarer has a singleton honor in spades. That would be quite consistent with the auction. Obviously leading the ace will be better than leading small if that is the case.
The disadvantage of leading the ace is that it might cost a spade trick on some layouts where declarer has 3 spades. For example, declarer could have ♠Qxx and dummy ♠xx. However, declarer has shown long clubs and a heart stopper. It looks more likely that declarer has a singleton spade honor. If that is the case, leading the ace may defeat the contract outright. Partner may think you have AK, but that is unlikely to make a difference. The ace lead appears to be percentage.
You choose to lead the ♠4. Nothing matters. The full hand is:
Declarer guesses the diamonds correctly, and makes 11 tricks.
While it didn't matter on this hand, shifting a couple of honors would have made leading the ♠A a big winner on this distribution. This illustrates that one must really put some thought into opening leads to gain maximum effectiveness. Leading by rote is not winning bridge.
Should East have taken any action in the auction?
East has 3-card heart support, but he has little in distribution or high cards. A raise by him might incite West to bid too much. When you have nothing, passing is usually right.
East could double 3♥ for a heart lead. From his point of view, he wants a heart lead against 3NT. However, he can't be sure. It is better to let West work out for himself the best lead rather than advertise an honor which isn't held. On the actual hand, if the enemy spades had been 2-2, the spade lead would force declarer to guess the diamonds for his contract.
Many pairs are reluctant to play equal-level conversion, feeling that they need double followed by a suit to show a powerhouse. I think this philosophy is a holdover from the old days where the overcall vs. double decision was based more on strength than shape -- strong hands almost always started with double, while the overcall usually was limited. Today most players are willing to overcall on very strong hands, keeping the takeout double focused on shape. Thus, there seems to be no reason for double followed by a suit to show a strong 1-suiter, when we can simply overcall with that hand.
Plus... it's free!