Roman in the Gloamin’ – The Gee Chronicles
Oct 042002

None Vul
Dealer: East
Lead: S2

S J 10 8 2
H A 10 8 2
D Q 6
C 9 7 6
S 9 4
H K Q 7 3
D K J 5 4
C K 4 3
[W - E] pete
S Q 5
D A 9 7 2
C A Q J 8 5 2
S A K 7 6 3
H 9 6 5 4
D 10 8 3
C 10

1 H



1 C
2 C


One of Gee’s countless innovations in bidding and play is Roman leads, his refinement and extension of Roman discards. I can do no better than to quote his definitive treatment of the subject:

At the first occurrence of play in a suit,
a) Lead of the Ace asks partner for a count in the suit (Standard or Upside Down as agreed by partnership…)
b) Lead of any other honor shows presence of at least 1 more honor in the suit and asks partner to play according to Roman carding or discard as the case may be. I recommend highest of touching honors.
a) Lead of an odd card encourages partner to return in the suit being led. It tends to show at least an honor in the suit being played.
b) Lead of an even discard discourages partner to return in the suit being led. It tends to show lack of honor in that suit. A relatively high even card suggests a shift to a higher-ranking suit other than the trump suit. A relatively low even card suggests a shift to a lower-ranking suit other than the trump suit.

Got all that? (The two-letter alphabet is in the original.) Now let’s watch Roman leads in action.

E/W can make ten tricks in clubs but have no legitimate game. West takes a flyer at 3NT after East rebids his club suit, and indeed 3NT would make on a low heart lead. North, to his credit, chooses a spade instead, but playing Roman leads, which one?

The deuce discourages, denies — “tends to show lack of,” as Gee elegantly phrases it — an honor, and asks for a diamond. (Presumably clubs are out.) The eight or ten discourages, denies an honor, and asks for a heart. The jack shows a second honor, although it’s not entirely clear to me which one. Not the queen, certainly, since you’re supposed to lead highest of touching. The ace? The king?

Mini-Gee finally selects the deuce, which asks for the wrong suit in return — not that there’s a right one — and blocks the suit into the bargain. Declarer ducks in dummy (I would fly the queen and hope), and Gee wins the SK. Let’s pause and think the hand out along with him. We can see seven tricks in dummy. West has shown a balanced near-opener, and any possible diamond finesse is on, so there must be at least eight tricks in the minors, if not nine. Everything indicates that the defense needs to cash out. The question is, which major? You can continue the one your partner has led (admittedly with a discouraging card), in which you hold AKxxx, or shift to the one declarer has bid, and your partner has not signaled for, in which you hold 9xxx.

The choice is clear. Gee shifts to the H6. Declarer plays low, and North wins the HA. To some defenders this might indicate that declarer has another heart honor or two. North’s subsequent return of the S8 — a not very informative spot, but still, it is a spade — might even confirm it.

Gee wins the SK and shifts back to a heart.

It may be some time yet before the pupil surpasses the master.

  8 Responses to “Roman in the Gloamin’”


    1. I have never heard of roman leads. Roman signals to leads, yes. Roman discards, yes. But leads, no.
    2. Mini-g deserves some fault here. Much easier to lead the JT(9)8. Clears up everything for partner.
    3. Can G count? That is the question.


    Another one of your lies, aaron!

    The description of the roman(italian) carding, leads and discard is not my innovation, as you claim… It is described in many Blue Club books, which I doubt you ever read (not sure you even read a Standard American book by reading some of the stupidities you publish sometimes)… The description I give is actually taken out of one of these books.

    Now… Petit-g misused the lead. No big deal, he is new to it and it takes a while before knowing how to use that carding system properly. But of course, for you aaron, that does not matter… It is more fun to assassinate me again and condemn a very sound and proven carding method than to understand that petit-g made an error. Only Gerard is an imbecile, ignorant, rude, pretentious and whatever other names you call me.

    Not wanting to look nasty towards petit-g, knowing that whatever I say is turned into dirt, I went out of my way to very nicely tell him after the hand was played that he had another lead available instead of the 2S lead which was wrong. Of course, it takes a person of proven lack of intelligence and with the exclusive will to humiliate others, like you aaron, to turn all this around and make me look like a fool…. again…

    You dont even know what you are talking about 90% of the time, but this does not matter, because that’s not what your “columns” are about anyway. You just turn everything into s***!… In fact, you throw so much of it around that I am wondering if you are not living and burried in it! LOL… That’s a question I might want to submit to Dr whatshisname some day…!


      I took the description of “Roman leads” from Gerard’s own web site, where he also remarks: “Roman leads is [sic] yet another extension of the formers [sic] that I have devised and tested over several thousands of hands. [Emphasis mine.]” And when I credit him with this innovation, on his own testimony, he disclaims it! What brings on this sudden fit of modesty?

      He will note, if he reads the article carefully, or at all, that I do not let North off for his choice of spade spots. Quite the contrary. But I also pointed out that, regardless of the spade spot played, the first heart shift is almost certainly wrong and the second one is inconceivable. The reader will note that Gerard does not trouble to dispute this.

      To discover “another” lie, it is necessary to find one in the first place. There are no lies on this site. There are occasional factual errors, and occasional analytical errors, and when they are pointed out to me, by Gerard or anyone else, I correct them promptly and acknowledge them prominently. Gerard knows this, and it reduces him to sputtering incoherence.


      “I went out of my way to very nicely tell him after the hand was played that he had another lead available instead of the 2S lead which was wrong.” Forgive my ignorance since I do not know the methods. Was SJ the right lead in these methods?


        SJ was indeed what Gee recommended after the hand. But it is not clear to me, from Gee’s description of the system, why SJ would be correct on the first round. All four spades look wrong.


    Being the curious type, I went to Gerard’s website, and reviewed “Roman leads.” I believe that any system that says NOT to lead the J from JT9x or JT8x is seriously flawed. And that’s an understatement. And his site does indeed state he “devised” them.

    As an aside, I find the use of “roman” signals to be ripe with the potential for unethical unconduct. The fact that your hand does not always have the “right” card to play often transmits information with the speed in which the card is played or, if in person, via body language.

    So, the question becomes: Why would anyone devise a lead system that: (1) by its very nature makes determining what partner’s opening lead means a possible blind guess, and (2) contributes yet another reason for director’s calls?

    It is a mystery to me.


    Assuming “Roman leads” and that MiniGee’s lead of the spade deuce were correct (i.e. suppose he were dealt 532 and wanted to lead the suit), Gee’s heart return could be correct if MiniGee held AQ10 of hearts, which is barely within the realm of possibility. Then, however, the petite one would win the heart Q. Once the ace of hearts won it was inconceivable not to continue spades when MiniGee returned one.


    This hand reminds me of an old bridge saying: A well-balanced player makes up for his inadequacy in the bidding with his ineptitude in the play. I happen to be a well-balanced player too.

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