Blog article categories (required for publishing)

The Intermediate Series

Lesson 6

Defensive Play


Defensive Signals


I have been writing a column for the Unit 181 for five years or so. All have been on bidding, as are my books. Time for a change. Let’s talk about the hardest part of the game – defence. Today – signals.



Defensive Signals Introduction


This is a very difficult aspect of Partnership Bridge. First you have decide whether to signal. Then, determining what to signal. Finally the easiest way to do this.


There are 3 primary signals:

1.    Attitude

2.    Count

3.    Suit Preference


1. Attitude


Partner leads an honour, you get to say if you want partner to continue or not. It does not promise an honour or a specific holding, it just says, ‘please continue.’ Maybe you do not want a shift to another suit. Maybe you have a different motivation. Unless partner knows something that you don’t (i.e. he has another good lead in a different suit, such as KQJ), he should abide by your request.


The other common attitude signal is when partner leads and the hand to the right wins the trick. Since ‘third hand high’ no longer applies, attitude is the signal (see exception below).


There is no universal practice, but I strongly believe that a singleton or void in dummy does not change the trick 1 message. Encouraging means continue, and is not suit preference or count.


Sometimes partner’s signal is unclear, because of the spots out. All you can do is your best. However if you want partner to continue a suit, let’s say with K8643, play the 8, or the highest card you can afford (assuming standard signaling). Don’t play a wishy-washy 4 or 6. This practice will minimize ambiguous situations, and playing a suit not wanted by the leader’s partner.



1.    Count


This signal is mostly used when declarer (or dummy) is on lead. If you do not have to win or play a specific card, your card played is a count card. However there are a couple of other specific instances when count is preferable to attitude:

1. Partner leads the heart 3, and dummy has J108, and you have 7532. Play the 5 (or 7) so show an even number of hearts. This will often help partner if he gets on lead before you do.


2. Partner leads the King against a five level or higher contract. This is the best card to lead at high levels with AK in a suit, and asks partner to show count, so he knows whether a second trick in this suit is going to cash. Often you want to lead an unsupported ace against a five or six level contract, either to cash a trick or two, or look at dummy. Partner will signal attitude, encouraging with the King.


3. Partner leads the Queen or Ace against notrump. Count is usually the most beneficial signal. The ace usually shows a solid, or near solid suit, and asks partner to drop his highest honour, or if holding no high honour, give count.



1. Suit Preference


This is the defensive signal with the lowest frequency, but with the greatest abuse. There are three common applications:


1.    When your suit finally sets up in notrump, the last card played indicates where your entry is located.


Example: You lead the K from AK872 against 3NT. Spades are 3-3-2 around the table with declarer having Qxx. If you cash the ace at trick 2, lead the 8 if you want a heart back, the 7 for a diamond, and the 2 for a club.



2.    Partner leads a suit where you are known to have length. If you discourage, a relatively high spot asks for the higher ranking suit, and a relatively low spot discourage asks for the lower ranking suit:


Example:You open 3h with KJ108742. Partner leads your suit. J says ‘if you get in please continue’. The two says I don’t want you to continue, but I want you to switch to the lowest logical suit. Finally the 7 says I don’t want you to continue but switch to one of the two higher ranking suits, whichever one looks more logical or inviting.



Bridge Rules


Regardless of the signals used you must fully inform the opponents as to your methods on your convention card, and when they ask during a specific situation. Not to do so is illegal, unethical and subject to discipline and other penalties.




Defensive Signals – Quiz and Exceptions


Powered by CjBlog