Wednesday Play at The Hutt (19)

Time to go back to defence and to signalling. Last Wednesday's X-Clubs Board 15 involves very basic signalling for the defenders. No guesswork at all should be involved, but even so almost half the NS pairs allowed East to make one more trick than East should have made as declarer.

Board 15 from Wednesday 14/04/2021
Dealer S NS Vul


Let’s imagine that in nearly all cases the bidding would be 1D from South and after two passes East bids directly to 4H. That is because East can expect West to have some values if North has passed South’s opening bid. There may be different bidding at some tables but the end result should always be 4H by East.

It is normally a good idea to make your opening lead after careful consideration of the bidding, but South has an immediately obvious lead of the ace of clubs. The bidding should tell South that quick tricks are what may be needed, and anyway, cashing one top club will still allow South to switch to the king of diamonds if that looks advisable. So, the ace of clubs should be the opening lead. I am pleased to say that it was nearly all the time. But after that, not all Souths continued with the king and then a third one. That is where signalling makes defence so easy, even though without any signals any thinking South should continue with the king and then a third one. Why? Because South can see three certain tricks in dummy to go with all the trumps (eight in all probability) that declarer will have in hand. Therefore the only possible source of tricks for the defence is in the club suit.

But back to signals and how they make life so easy for the defence: playing normal attitude signals, a HIGH card played by partner asks you to continue, a LOW card is discouraging a continuation. It is the opposite if you've agreed with your partner to play reverse attitude signals. With normal attitude signals North follows with the NINE, expecting South to play the king next and then a third one. The nine, a high card, could also have been played from a doubleton, and that would result in a third round ruff. Seeing that wonderful dummy, South should in fact continue with the second and third round of clubs whatever the case, but often the play is not that easy to decide on, which is why signalling is an absolute must for any partnership. Just be sure to discuss it with EVERY partner you play with!