The Times Herald (Norristown, PA)

TOP PAIRS SIGNAL WITH MOST CARDS

- By Phillip Alder

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “Ships that pass in the night and speak each other in passing; / Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness; / So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, / Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.”

Bridge defenders do not play in the dark, but they must signal to each other. If you watch a wellversed pair, it is surprising how much informatio­n can be sent across the table.

In today’s deal, how did East and West defend against four spades after West had led the diamond ace?

North made a cue-bid raise, showing three or more spades and at least game-invitation­al strength (at most eight losers). South, with only a six-loser hand, jumped to game.

From East’s point of view, it was likely that his partner had led a singleton. If so, she would want to know where East has an entry so that she could receive a ruff. Since that was in clubs, the lower-ranking of the other two side suits, East played the diamond three.

Now West did very well, shifting to the club two. What did this tell East?

Leading low from length guarantees at least one honor in that suit and expresses interest in trying to win tricks in that suit. So East now knew that his partner had not led a singleton ace. If she had, she would have switched to a high club. Therefore, East won with his club ace and returned the club eight (high from a remaining doubleton). A moment later, West’s spade ace defeated the contract.

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