Aces on Bridge

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Puzzles, Horoscope And Bridge - BOBBY WOLFF

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.

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