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«  1201  »

Signals & discards. After declarer-dummy lead

Always describe your shape: give count

Imagine that Declarer leads a new suit, say with the King. Does it matter which of your terrible weak 13 cards you now play ?

Yes, very much, if you want to be one those irritating partnerships that often win.

Why ? Because your partner will then be able to work out exactly how many cards the enemy declarer is holding in his (carefully hidden) hand in this suit. This can be jolly useful, for example:

  • when deciding how many tricks partner should "hold up" before playing his winner over declarer's last entry to dummy;
  • later on, for ruffing;
  • later on, for the end-game;
  • to keep up with long suits in declarer's hidden hand, by choosing the correct discards;
  • etc

Yes, you inform your dear partner how many cards you've got in the new suit: by playing the correct 'little' card to follow declarer's King lead:

  • play 'high then low' to tell your partner you've got an even number of cards
  • play lowest in your hand then 'higher' to tell your partner you've got an odd number of cards

Very, very simple.

And a bit like the old 'high-low' for a doubleton, one of the even numbers.

Your partner can then do his arithmetic: if this is an important suit for him, he's already worked out how many you and declarer have between you (from his own hand and dummy).

Let's say that's 5 cards. If you say you have an even number, 2 or 4, then declarer MUST have 3 or 1, (not 2 or 4 cards). Result: partner can tighten up his plan.

Here are some 'giving count' examples

1201. 'Count' signal, after declarer lead of new suit, to reveal distribution
your cards EVEN or ODD no. of cards first play 2nd play
1 9 7 4 ODD 4 7
2 Q 9 4 ODD 4 9
3 9 7 4 3 EVEN 7 3
4 Q 7 4 3 EVEN 7 3
5 4 3 EVEN 4 3
6 9 4 EVEN 9 4
7 9 ODD 9
8 2 ODD 2
9 4 3 2 ODD 2 4
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Some notes from the table above

  • Hand 3. Avoid the 'natural' beginners-bridge play - i.e. playing the 3 first of all. Because then your next play in the suit will inevitably be higher, and will therefore mislead your highly observant adult partner into believing that you have an odd number of cards. (You could also play 9 first, to make it even clearer, though it's a bit less sensible because the 9 might prove to be useful later).
  • Hand 7. When you only have the highest 'little' card (the 9) your partner will often place you with 2 cards, but hopefully might work out that a singleton is likely, both from the cards visible in dummy and his hand, and from the bidding.
  • Hand 9. If you've got the tiny 2, the smallest card, then of course play the 2 if you have an odd number of cards, because then your partner will know immediately that your holding is odd (there's nothing lower than the 2). He won't have to remember and await confirmation of count at the next time that suit is played.

As well as letting your partner know about your suit shape, you can also do the same yourself and watch for your partner's card count signals - if you're brain's big enough and quick enough. To help you to remember it more easily, use the information from partner immediately, by working out how many cards the declarer must have in the suit.

Ah, there's so much to remember. Maybe start by focussing only on the obviously important 1 (or maybe 2) suits.

Should you send the same 'shape' signal when partner leads a suit ?

Now try the quiz

Can you put all this into action ? Try the quiz for this subject by clicking on the link at the top left of the page, just below the main menu.
(You can try quizzes for any other subjects too while you're there. Look out for the thin red line).



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