X-Def 09

Here is a deal from a recent match point session at X-Clubs which will serve to illustrate why it is so important to have a set method of opening leads and signals.

Board 10 from Friday 21/04/23)
Dealer East All Vul


The final contract was either 2NT or 3NT. Personally, I generally subscribe to the view that “an opening bid opposite an opening bid equals game”, but North’s totally flat 12 count is not worth more than 11 at most, so let’s say the final contract is 2NT and West leads the three of diamonds. Declarer plays low from dummy and the seven holds! Declarer now has a number of options, but let’s say declarer immediately leads back a diamond from dummy, to remove West’s king and set up two diamond tricks. What should East discard on the second diamond? East’s discard should mean something to West, that is why we have signals. The normal method of signalling has for many years been “High-Like, Low-Dislike”, but for some reason the latest trend has been just the opposite, known as “Reverse Attitude”. If you want to do that then get someone else to help you understand the merits of that signalling method. I won’t do it because I am convinced that the old fashioned method is technically superior and gives me and my partner better results.

So, what card should East play on the second diamond? Looking at dummy, East surely wants a switch to a spade, but can East afford to discard ANY spades at all, in order to signal to West. Probably not, so, East must discard a discouraging card in either hearts or clubs and hope West decides on a spade switch. We do, however, have an extra way of showing an interest in another suit when discarding. We discard a LOW card in the suit BELOW the one we have an interest in, in this case we discard a low heart to indicate an interest in spades. West switches to the two of spades, the ten being too big a card to waste immediately. The two also suggests to East that West has a three or four card suit, probably to an honour. If declarer falls into the trap of trying a spade finesse with the JACK, disaster! Can you see why? East wins the queen and when West next wins the ace of hearts, which is inevitable sooner or later, West continues with the TEN of spades, swallowing up declarer’s nine. Four spade tricks for the defence to go with a diamond and a heart, and possibly more. That is why you need to practice your declarer play as well as defence. Playing LOW from dummy will ensure a spade hold whenever West has the ten OR queen.

Next time: A very easy low level defence against a trump contract.