Andrew Gumperz is a part-time bridge professional based in the SF bay area. He has numerous regional victories, but his proudest bridge accomplishment was upsetting the CAYNE team at the 2009 Spingold in Washington DC. In his spare time, Andrew enjoys musical theater, especially when his daughter is performing.
If you play 2/1 or SAYC, the standard advice is to open 1♦ on 4-4 in the minors or exactly 4-4-3-2 shape. with 3-3 in the minors, open 1♣.
My article argued for opening 1♣ on 4-4 in the minors, but to adopt that approach you ...
Now she knows your opponent is prone to trying to play 1NT when he might hold a 10-card heart fit, that is an even greater reason for her not to balance over his 1NT with a hand like this one :-)
As for the lead, every option is poor. The spade ...
Spades has to play 2+ tricks better before it makes a difference. Most of the time, it will not matter. However, my guess is spades is safer than NTs but I don't claim any strong reasoning to support that assertion.
I like the cheaper 2NT rebid. This gives partner a chance to make rebid that continues his description. For example, I would be delighted if partner can show a concentration in hearts. If he raises to 3NT I can always correct to 4♠ if i want to.
The auction is nutty.
1. With the opponents advertising no fit, I have balanced vulnerable with a defensive hand and an Axxx suit.
2. On a no-fit auction, when he could have defended against a vulnerable opponent, my RHO has introduced what must be a 3-card heart suit.
The philosophy is to minimize risk when making blind leads. The subsidiary point is that with a choice of blind leads from suits headed by an honor, the lead from the lowest ranking honor is safest. So in this case, I lead a club.
I suspect that players who are bidding 4♥ think that having denied 3 hearts by not raising earlier, they can now show exactly Hx in hearts and tolerance for clubs with the delayed 4♥ call. They expect partner to correct to 5♣ holding something like: ♠x, ♥Axxxx ...