X-Files 75

If you want to do well at this game, you need to know how to defend reasonably well. Having a good system of signalling on defence will get you a long way towards that. This board was nearly always played in 4S by East. The bidding could have gone a number of ways but the defence should have gone only one way. Yet, out of nine declarers in 4S, four made five, three made four, and only two were down one, which is as it should be, given what should be a fairly routine defence.

Board 13 from Wednesday 29/07/20
Dealer N All Vul


There is only one sensible opening lead against a 4S contract by East: the ace of hearts. With ace and king in the same suit, the lead of a top card is almost always correct. Some players lead the king from such a holding, but most lead the ace, because the lead of the king usually guarantees the queen. The lead of an ace on opening lead asks for partner to signal ‘attitude’ , i.e does partner like the lead or not?

If partner likes it, partner signals accordingly. North, with three hearts, does not want South to continue, and therefore signals accordingly, with the lowest heart if using standard signals, or the highest one if using ‘reverse attitude’. South can see that continuing with the king will be disastrous if declarer has a singleton, and North’s signal to the opening lead should tell South just that. South then switches to another suit that has hopes for the defence, the singleton diamond. North wins the ace and returns another for South to ruff. If East has not bid diamonds, this may be unexpected, but we have a way of making sure. While we usually lead the ace from AK, we lead the king from AK to indicate an outside singleton. We will also lead the king from AK doubleton, and there is never any confusion after the first trick holds.

Such normal signalling as well as subtle additions to enhance the signalling system are worth learning and practising, and will come automatically with play and a more regular partner who is on your wavelength.