Judy Kay-Wolff


Just out of curiosity (and this is not a trick hand) .. what do you lead against 2H holding the East cards?  But before you do so, here is the auction with EW vulnerable.   You are East with the following hand and pass (?) as Dealer.  The bidding proceeds:  1C by South, Pass by partner, 1H by your RHO and for some cowardly reason you do not venture a 2D call, taking out your green card and Lefty raises to 2H which ends the auction. 


♠ K 2
♥ J
♦ A T 9 6 4 2
♣ K 9 8 5

I have money riding on your answer, so please speak up!  When your votes are counted, I will give you the entire hand and enlighten you on the actual proceedings.


Greg NowakMay 26th, 2013 at 5:27 am

I’m leading SK. I’ve ruled out other leads. I think if it’s right I stand the most to gain.

ReneMay 26th, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Hi Judy:

I know you don’t usually deal in “hands” and the fact that only one has answered, I suspect this must have a doozy for an answer.

Judy Kay-WolffMay 26th, 2013 at 4:44 pm

No doubt it is a tough lead and as you will learn, it led to an amusing resolution. It actually had a happy ending, but I wanted to invade the thought process of others who might have been faced with the problem. Obviously nothing is ‘automatic.’ In fact, I might still be thinking if I was on lead.


PaulMay 26th, 2013 at 5:07 pm

I’m thinking, I’m thinking! I really don’t like any four of my alternatives as any one specific lead could likely blow a trick. I’d pay to pass the lead.


Judy Kay-WolffMay 26th, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Hi Paul:

Looks like everyone but Greg is pussyfooting! I think it is a question of what Norman used to call “the lesser of the evils.” Bobby and I talked about it and agreed it was awkward. Obviously, nothing is “wrong” but in actuality may turn out costly. Will give you the hand tonight and how off base my thought process turned out to be.


Greg NowakMay 26th, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Does dummy have DK and pard have DQ? Mitigations for underleading DA occur more in poker than bridge.

Judy Kay-WolffMay 26th, 2013 at 8:11 pm

In answer to your question — No, underleading the diamond ace would be dangerous. Soon as I finish my afternoon chores, I will put up the whole hand on this site. You are the only brave one to commit yourself!

Jane AMay 26th, 2013 at 9:27 pm

I know this hand because I played it, but our bidding was vastly different. With the bidding you described, I would not lead the spade king, but I was declarer in four hearts, sitting north. The bidding – two diamond open by the shown hand, double by my partner, then got a two spade bid by the my RHO, alerted as showing a spade card and diamond support. The opener decides to bid three clubs now. Alerted again as showing a second suit. My opponents played a unique system, always alerted however, and fully explained. Since I as north held four of each major, but also held some diamonds, I decided not to bid at this point to see where the hand was going. I fully planned to bid my heart suit later as I know I am getting another chance. Anyway, long story short, I get to be declarer at four hearts and of course get the king of spades lead, small spade to the ace, spade ruff, ace of diamonds down one. Got doubled also, for a zero. East is down two at four diamonds which is what they bid after I bid three hearts. Four diamonds will get whacked by me because I believe we have that bid set. Partner did not give me the chance, but he had a nice hand so no way for him to have a clear decision what is best.

But to answer your original question, without all the bidding that went on at my table, I would lead either the heart jack or the ace of diamonds. I know the hand is distributional, so leading a heart seems to be OK. Do I think I am setting two hearts? No. Do I know now that either lead would not have been the best choice? Of course.

Judy Kay-WolffMay 27th, 2013 at 12:59 am

I am having trouble putting the hand on the site as planned. However, try to visualize the declarer holding
J653 K973 KJ5 76 opposite Q107 A1042 7 AQJ103

Our opponents were two pleasant gentlemen I had never seen before. Righty was on lead and thought a long time before tabling the SK. I knew immediately it was not accompanied by the SA as he would not have agonized so much before leading. Partner signalled with the 9 and the S2 was returned for the ruff. Defender, happy with his ‘brilliant lead,’ cash the DA but now returned another diamond into declarer’s remaining KJ making the rest the proverbial ‘piece of cake.’ Even Bobby had no problem handling it for nine tricks — playing the HA and hooking West out of the Q864 and taking a working club finesse, with the SJ and DJ already established. Our plus 140 earned us seven matchpoints with eleven being the ultimate.

My initial reaction was that of annoyance that my RHO made such a … shall we say …. “inspired lead.” However, when I got home and checked out our opponents, I noted they had a total of less than 300 masterpoints between them and finished last in their direction with a 36% score for the afternoon. It just goes to show you how much I know!

Incidentally, Bobby felt that some (like Greg) would thrust the SK upon the table, although he personally would not have. It just appeared so gutsy to me — especially with a singleton trump. However, it turned out fine for us as we didn’t have to worry about handling the fourth spade.

Judy Kay-WolffMay 27th, 2013 at 1:16 am

Hi Jane A:

Amazing how differently the auction went at our individual tables. I would rather have opened 1D with East’s hand (or pass) but not have stuck my neck on the chopping block VUL with a WTB having such a broken suit.

However, as they say, that is why they make chocolate and vanilla.

Greg NowakMay 28th, 2013 at 12:57 am

The next time I take over for somebody that leaves a hand in this minus position I’m still leading SK. This time I’ll find pard with qjtx (which is what I really wanted). If pard has a stiff club we might go plus 50 and get an average. Judy, I’m sorry people weren’t sporting enough to answer. Everybody’s leading DA and getting DQ signal.

Judy Kay-WolffMay 28th, 2013 at 1:32 am

Great thinking, Braveheart!

That’s “high level” and the field is not up to that. Your explanation does not surprise me as I know you are capable of such plays. However, it was a shocker when my RHO made such a “lucky” lead. Guess I was just paranoid for him to find his partner with SA.



Steve GaynorMay 28th, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Since you probably have trump length I’d have led the DA looking for the ‘tap’, but if I get the DQ signal, I go for some ice cream.

Oops, wrong DQ.

Judy Kay-WolffMay 28th, 2013 at 11:58 pm

Hi Steve:

It’s a hard call as to what to lead. With the way the cards lie (as long as declarer judges the trumps to be 4/1 and with the club finesse on side) — it always makes three. The lead of the SK and the eventual ruff and the cashing of the DA just makes life easier.

I just thought the SK was a rather unusual lead (with a singleton trump) and I wanted to get a feel from the readers. Anything could turn out right.

Steve GaynorMay 29th, 2013 at 5:13 pm

I have a phobia about K doubleton leads as we lost the GNT finals one year and a hand that contributed to our narrow loss is when my teammate made that lead – the only lead allowing declarer to make a game.

Judy Kay-WolffMay 31st, 2013 at 1:39 am

I’m with you, Steve.

I’d rather not be the hero(ine) or the goat. If you’re right, you are a genius. If you are wrong, you look like an idiot. My ego is not that big that I am looking for headlines. If you merely perform well and avoid grandstand plays, it is better for the morale of the partnership.

Greg NowakMay 31st, 2013 at 6:01 pm

What about context? You have 71 masterpoints. You’re in a 12 table Mitchell with a relay and bystand. You have sold out to 2H, which you’re going to find you should never do. Nobody else did. You study, strike gold with SK lead. You get above ave for you. Michael Rosenberg made a similar lead playing with Bob Hamman. His lead was definitely not as good. Not until dinner did Hamman say; my partner made an interesting lead. Neither you nor partner have ever heard of them and you barely know Bobby Wolff. Still…

Judy Kay-WolffJune 1st, 2013 at 12:05 am


Your remark about passing 2H was Edgar’s theory. Unless you have good trumps in your opponent’s suit, he would never sell out

I don’t understand what you are alluding to with your comment about Bob Hamman.

Greg NowakJune 1st, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Michael Rosenberg wrote about a similar hand in his book. If you would never make the lead, you would never have to worry about partner’s reaction when it fails.

Judy Kay-WolffJune 1st, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Thanks for clarifying, Greg. I just could not assimilate the reference to Hamman and Wolff.