Aces on Bridge
The modern defender has to have a number of weapons in his armory. These include a method of leading. Then he needs a system of signaling — high cards for an even number or encouragement — plus the judicious use of suit-preference signals. When attitude and count are irrelevant or already known, high cards suggest the higher suit, low cards the lower.
A hot potato when it comes to signaling at no trump is the Smith Echo. After the opening lead, each defensive hand can use this tool to reinforce whether they like that suit as soon as possible. Following to declarer’s first lead, when not giving count, a defender’s high spot card encourages the suit of the opening lead, while a low spot card denies extras in that suit. This signal can produce tempo problems — and sometimes the message can be conveyed in other ways, as in today’s deal.
Against three no-trump, West’s heart four went to the 10 and king. South played on clubs, West winning the second round, as East echoed to say he liked hearts. West now decided that South might be left with the bare heart queen, so he cashed the ace, which was fatal since it blocked the suit.
Note: If East had broken the bridge rules by playing the heart jack to trick one, then West knows that a low heart at his next turn is right, whether East has the queen or not, since South surely has the 10! West can subsequently overtake the queen to run the suit and defeat the game.