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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

Safety in Signalling

“I did not want to give a trick away” North was heard to say in the post-mortem which came too soon after another game had slipped through. “Too soon” was because it occurred at the table rather than after the score-up, a much better time for examining the rights and the wrongs of what had occurred in the previous hour or so of a Teams match.

North was in the firing line not just because their passive play had allowed the 4Spade-small contract to make when the defence had a relatively easy 4 tricks to take but because South had guided their partner to the correct defence. “Feeling vulnerable” was how North felt as he was told somewhat tersely what he had not done. Message to South. Remember one day, tomorrow, next July (probably sooner!), you too will not follow partner’s signal. Treat partner as you would be treated. Someone once wisely said bridge is a partnership game!

Let’s look at North’s “crime”.

Board 2
East Deals
N-S Vul
J 5 2
A Q J 5 4 2
Q 3
Q 5
   
N
W   E
S
 
9 7 6 4
K 8 3
7 6 5 4 2
10
West North East South
  You Dummy  
    Pass Pass
1  2  2  3 
4  All pass    

 

North was in no mood to make a wrong guess at trick 1 by leading the queen from one of his doubletons. Thus, he started with the Heart-smallA and saw a very unwelcome king appear in dummy. “Of all the cards East should have” mused North though West was kind enough to follow suit with the Heart-small6 while South played Heart-small10. Neither minor suit really appealed as a switch, the diamond probably solving any guess declarer had in that suit while a club switch would surely only hurt the defence. Thus, North continued hearts…and within seconds, West had claimed for 10 tricks!

Board 2
East Deals
N-S Vul
J 5 2
A Q J 5 4 2
Q 3
Q 5
A K 10 8 3
6
J 8
A K J 9 8
 
N
W   E
S
 
9 7 6 4
K 8 3
7 6 5 4 2
10
 
Q
10 9 7
A K 10 9
7 6 4 3 2

 

A diamond disappeared on the Heart-smallK. Two rounds of trumps were followed by two top clubs and the claim was made.

South was wrong in the timing of their comment but right in what they said. “My Heart-small10 could not be a true card as I had supported you. You could tell that is was the highest heart I held. I wanted you to switch to the higher of the unplayed non trump suits, diamonds.”

“I thought you were just giving me count, showing an odd number (reverse count)” said a reflective North. “Maybe the same will happen at the other table?”

“Two wrongs…” muttered an angry South. Unfortunately, it did not happen that way at all at the other table where East never bid and North bought the contract in and made 3Heart-small, 11 imps to the opposition.

Both partners should have learnt something from this deal. South should have learnt more than a little about how one should treat a partner, well an “ex- partner” as North looked elsewhere for a more pleasant game though North had to admit that South had been correct. If North did not know how many hearts South had, they would soon find out. ( A contra argument is that North could have had a five card heart suit giving West two hearts. Thus, a heart switch could have been entirely safe.) However, for a time when a switch may be necessary, it is much more useful for South to indicate a switch by their play to the first round of the suit.

What if the Heart-smallK was not in dummy? Say dummy held three small hearts or even three hearts to the queen. Then, count is really important, in each case for a different reason. (either telling North how many tricks they have in that suit or, in the case of Qxx, then to be very careful in taking a second round.) Yet, where dummy stands to win the second round of a suit and leader’s partner has already supported the suit, think suit preference: high for higher, low for lower of the unbid non-trump suits. It might here, had both partners been on the same wave-length, saved not just the lost imps but a partnership too!    

Richard Solomon

 

 

 

 

 

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