Judy Kay-Wolff


Does anyone have an opinion on the following scenario?

The auction proceeds:

1C 1NT P 3NT (with club opener taking a long time before passing).

What would you have led holding 10XXX  JXX  Q9XXX  X?

What is your ethical leaning of opener leading his singleton club?  Are there any moral issues involved after the huddle before passing (by a famous expert)?  A diamond lead allows you to make 9 tricks and the lead of either major gives you a shot.   The only opening thrust to beat the game is a singleton club.

What say you?


John Howard GibsonOctober 19th, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Dear Judy, What could the huddle be about ? What the huddler thinking about bidding 4C……on his long club suit and an outside entry ( expecting to go 2 off for a decent score). With a quick pass his partner would surely lead a club since leading a diamond is futile given no likely entries in hand. After the huddle, partner choice of a club lead has been compromised, but yet again he has no valid alternative. Overall it is a bit naughty since the huddler could have persuaded partner to bid 4C if had 3 small and a shortage elsewhere. Yours HBJ

LindaOctober 20th, 2010 at 6:21 am

A huddle really can only be about doubling (or general drifting… when does my plane leave, what should I get my wife for her birthday(.

In systems I have often played a double asks NOT to lead a club. In that case a long pause does not suggest a club lead but if the double ASKS for a club lead then that is obviously what opener was thinking about and then yes the lead is unethical.

Without any pause I probably would lead either a spade or a club. I wouldn’t likely lead a diamond the risk reward is not on my side.

Ray LeeOctober 20th, 2010 at 9:35 am

I’m with Linda — the huddle can really only be about doubling. That being so, assuming the double would request a club lead, that’s the one card that shouldn’t be led. I’m also with her in liking a spade lead anyway…

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 20th, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Following along with the theory of ‘helping partner” — here’s one from today — from an experienced partnership (who play a kooky system — which certainly should be canned at the club level).

The bidding went:

2D* P 6H P

P P**

2D was alerted as Flannery (*) (4/5 in the majors). They asked but Bobby offered the information first. After an obvious huddle before passing, guess what partner lead?

Surprise, surprise. However, Bobby’s magnificent play brought home the slam especially after a non-shocking diamond opening thrust.

P.S. Huddler just happened to have the Diamond king and queen.

If there was ever a doubt what to lead, West got a helping hand. It’s time people cleaned up their acts!

PaulOctober 21st, 2010 at 2:24 am


I hope you asked for both these cases to be recorded and/or reported to the club manager.

Dealing with cases, which you believe are blatant, can be difficult in a club game. But if you take no action, then are you not effectively condoning them and inviting them to continue?



PaulOctober 21st, 2010 at 2:27 am

As an aside, you would be the kooky pair in the UK if you were playing Flannery! šŸ™‚

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 21st, 2010 at 3:22 am


I always respect your advice because I know the game comes first and you write from the heart.

Sadly, these were both taken from tournaments and wth our directing staff — it would mean nothing. In fact, one from the kooky partnership is part owner of a club — so you can

imagine how personal agendas can get to be a stumbling block.

Thanks for your sincere advice and encouragement,


BOBBY WOLFFOctober 21st, 2010 at 3:45 am

Hi Paul,

Concerning the handling of the above case, one thought remains paramount. Not unlike in America, when (during the 1800’s) a discussion of how the West (USA) was won, it becomes apparent that vigilantes self deputized themselves to secure justice for the region, by so doing what was right, mainly because it was the only way to get the job done.

Perhaps in the now UK your knights of yore did likewise, without which we might be looking at an entirely different world now. Some might argue that this sort of justice does more harm than good, and left in the wrong hands I might agree, but if left in the hands of a benevolent bridge loving competent person I would approve.

There are very few inviolate rules in life which do not profit by some worthwhile person taking control and making it happen. Your views tell me that I would guess you might approve, but then again I could never be sure.

Thanks for your advice.

Bobby Wollff

Judy KaY-WolffOctober 21st, 2010 at 7:39 am


You said it all: “Iā€™m with Linda ā€” the huddle can really only be about doubling.”

But how can people (especially those experts) do that when they should be smart enough to know that they live in glass houses)???


ChrisOctober 21st, 2010 at 10:25 am

There is a problem inherent in not making the lead or bid that one would normally have made without a hesitation, especially if the lead or bid is fairly clear. The problem is that the hesitation can be put to use by real cheaters…always go into the tank when you don’t want partner to lead your suit or when you don’t want partner to bid again after your double.

I am of the opinion that one should do what one would have done without the hestiation, pretending that we are playing with screens. I think the only thing a hesitation should require is that partner can no longer ‘use his imagination’ and do something wild or off the cuff or ‘state of the match’ if the hesitation suggested that.

I would have led a club. I will very likely take no tricks on this hand so I must try to help partner. The hesitation has nothing to do with it.

Now the diamond guy on the next hand, well that is a totally different story…

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 21st, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Just for the record, I have asked about 20 respected and expert players at the sectional and it was almost unanimous not to lead a club, alluding to the obvious problem of the hesitation. There was no (you’ll pardon the expresssion) leading of the witness, The hand was given as a problem. Some led a diamond and others a spade.

It has been exhausting and I will be happy to return home and bury my head under the pillow for at least a day. Getting too old for this stuff. However, the Sectional was very well received. The first three days totalled around 595 tables. All evening sessions (except the first) were on the house.

By the way, I just saw a flyer announcing their February LV Sectional at Bally’s on the Strip (7th to the 11th). I hear the playing facilities are lovely and larger and of course, though The Riviera has served the Unit well,

and we’ll still be having some events there, Bally’s is much more modern with Paris as the adjoining hotel. Sounds like a good place for people who like short trips to Vegas — and if I saw right, it was only a $49 room rate but can’t swear to it!

We’re leaving tomorrow so it is packing time.



Judy Kay-WolffOctober 22nd, 2010 at 5:32 am

I just got a confirmation from LV Unit Prsident, I was not seeing things. The Bally rooms are $49.


EllisOctober 22nd, 2010 at 6:48 pm


in the 1cl-3nt auction, there is an inherrent problem. In that opener needs almost to have needed to decide before he opened the bidding what he would do in the situation that arose. Thereby being able to bid in tempo when the bidding came back to them.

In the methods I play double means dont lead my suit, pass means do what you think best, this woudl normally be please lead my suit unless you have a better line of defence.

Sometimes you have to make the decison not to double in order to generate a plus rather than risk doubleing for an unnconventional lead, thereby risking opps making a doubled contract.

All of this took me 2 moinutes to write, 30 seconds to a minute in the tank on this auction is not to be unexpected.

the diamond auction is just not worth talking about, that type of thing should be stamped out with a large boot.

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 23rd, 2010 at 6:27 pm


To each his own. Interesting you say “the diamond auction is just not worth talking about, that type of thing should be stamped out with a large boot.” Several of the top players I polled, after ruling out a club (per force) — did lead a diamond. Guess that is why Howard Johnson’s used to make 28 different flavors.

EllisOctober 24th, 2010 at 7:18 pm

I think you misundestood me, the auction in which 2d flannerry was opened, and a huddle ensued with no intention of bidding was the one i was oppossed to.

the inherrent problem in the first auction, is there is a mandatory skip bid pause over 3nt, in addition to this the ethical player will not bid immedsiately over a skip bid, as this often tends to imply the bid he made was obvious and did not involve much thought, this also imparts information.

There are many problems solved by screens, but even with screens you begin to learn the tempo of the opponents in longer matched.

there comes a time , when you just have to accept that 99.9% of players are ethical or try to be, and often even when they are not they do not understand why there actions may be construed to be unethical , and would be appalled if anyone explained to them they had acted in an unethical manner.

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 24th, 2010 at 9:48 pm

You are living in a dream world.

If Bobby has the time, I will have him elaborate.


Bobby WolffOctober 24th, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Hi Ellis,

It is a good thing that you take the trouble to get involved in this discussion.

Having said the above, I disagree with your assessments and percentages pertaining to random opponents. While everyone down deep would rather win ethically, there are many more than you expect who, being realistic, need help to compete at a high level. Therefore (although I am not a psychologist) they realize that bridge, being the kind of game that it is (dependent on partner’s ability, judgment — not to mention random luck) try and assist the percentages of success by helping partner make more accurate decisions.

Rationalization would be a kinder word than unethical, but nevertheless, bridge, at all levels, even the top, succumbs to too much temptation. To combat this human condition we need to keep close watch on the goings on and help all of us remain as ethical as our wonderful game demands us to be.

If you are right about the percentages involving what you think are basically a landslide for super ethical players, I am dead wrong.

However, it is sad for me to report that I do not think I am.

Best regards

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 24th, 2010 at 11:10 pm


Since Bobby deliberately did not get involved in the discussion of the huddle before passing 3NT, let me say the following:

1. A skip bid may be required, but in such an auction (where the opener rarely bids again), I cannot recall an alert with a stop card, requiring the 1C bidder to wait before passing. Incidentally, it was about 20-30 seconds — with no shame.

2. The opener was just not “anybody” — but a world class player who no doubt wanted a club lead. AND, HIS HUDDLE AND PASS SURELY GOT THE JOB DONE.

3. The situation suggests three possible kinds of holdings: (a) where he wants a club lead badly; (b) where he has a reasonable 5/4/4 hand and must make a bid or be prepared to just die; and/or (c) where he has a 6/5 and just must take the bull by the horns and bid his five-bagger.

Bobby feels with (b) and (c), you chance a bid, but (a) his hesitation and pass strongly suggested a club lead (holding AKXXXX and the Spade A and Q)

and …

4. As Bobby always tells me, if you are going to study a long time and then Pass, you might as well bid — as there is an inference and puts pressure on your partner. The double had little to lose and would at least have been an ethical way to get the desired lead as most people play it asks for the lead of his suit or he has it beat off the top in his own hand.

My immediate vibes were right but to make sure I wasn’t being a poor loser, I did ask what I considered the top players who were around. It was practically unanimous WHAT NOT TO LEAD. End of saga.