Signals, discards, ruffs, winners
J.M. Barrie wrote, “I am not young enough to know everything.” I can relate to that. Some 10 years after moving from high school teaching into bridge full time, I bumped into a former pupil. After informing me that he was the sous chef at a famous restaurant, he said, “You know, sir, I now realize that you aren’t as stupid as I thought when you were teaching me.”
A bridge player never knows everything. But to defend well, it helps to have the full arsenal under control: leads, signals, discards, and counting of winners, losers and high-card points.
In this deal, how can the defenders defeat two spades?
West, since his opponents had stopped in an eight-card fit at the two-level, might have made a second takeout double. This would have risked ending in three hearts in a 4-3 fit, but here it would have worked well because three diamonds was makable.
West leads the club ace. East drops the seven, starting a highlow with a doubleton. West cashes his club king and continues with the club queen. What should East discard?
East is making an attitude signal, and it is preferable to throw an encouraging card. Here, East signals with the heart seven.
West, who knows this is high, shifts to his heart three (low from an honor). East wins with his ace and returns the heart two. Even if South cleverly plays his queen smoothly, West should win and lead his last heart, which East ruffs to defeat the contract.
Now for the tough question: How does West know East is out of hearts? Because if he had begun with A-7-5-2, he would have led back the five at trick five, the higher of his remaining cards.