A MODERN BID FALLS TO GOOD SIGNALING
Susanne Langer, a philosopher who was well known for her theories on the influences of art on the mind, said, "A signal is comprehended if it serves to make us notice the object or situation it bespeaks."
At the bridge table, a good defender signals to his partner, but, obviously, a signal will only serve him well if partner comprehends it. In today's deal, West leads the heart ace against four spades. What happens after that?
North's three-heart advance is called a "mixed raise." It showed four-card support and 7-9 high-card points. It is also usually made with a nineloser hand, so North's call was an overbid because he had 10 losers, given the probable uselessness of the heart queen after East's opening bid. But if North had settled for two spades (or a pre-emptive three spades, which would also have been debatable with 4-3-33 distribution), it would have ruined a good story.
West led the heart ace, and East signaled encouragingly with the 10. If West had started with only two hearts, East wanted his partner to continue the suit. However, West had three hearts and he knew that East's play denied the heart jack, because East would have signaled with the top of his touching cards. If West had led a second heart, shortly thereafter declarer would have discarded a diamond loser on dummy's heart queen. Instead, West shifted to the diamond eight.
South took East's jack with his ace, drew trumps ending in the dummy and led the heart six, but East won with his king and cashed two diamond tricks to defeat the contract.