Quick summary

After Declarer's lead in a new suit

Tell your partner how many cards you have in that suit:

Partner might even remember, when it's time for a ruff. . ...

But don't reveal your "count" after your partner's lead. He needs to know your attitude to his lead:


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Example Deal

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Signals & discards. "Count"

Declarer leads a new suit

Does it matter which low card you play ?

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

It can be important for defenders to know if partner has either 4 cards or 3, since then they will be able to work out exactly how many cards the declarer is holding in his carefully hidden hand! This can be jolly useful for example when trying to "hold up " in No Trumps. Also very useful later on, either for ruffing, or for the end game, or for keeping up with long suits in dummy or declarer's hand.

By making the right choice you can each inform your dear partner how many cards you've got in that suit:

  • play "higher then low" to tell your partner you've got an even number of cards
  • play "low then higher" to tell your partner you've got an odd number of cards

You will recognise the "high-low" convention for an even number of cards. Of course ! It's used in a similar way when leading and discarding, in order to signify a doubleton (2-cards, an even number, of course).

So, for example, with

  • 9 7 4, an odd number of cards, play them in the order 7, 9, 4
  • 9 7 4 2, an even number of cards, play them in the order 4, 2, 7, 9; or less sensibly, but still giving 'count' - 9, 7, 4, 2 ; But don't start with the 'natural' unthinking play by putting down the 2 first. Because then your next card will inevitably be higher, and will therefore mislead your highly observant partner into believing that you have an odd number of cards
  • With an ODD number of cards, you might like to take help from the "ODD MUD" acronym. MUD stands for Middle Up Down, so you would play the 9,7,4 holding by starting with the middle card, the 7, and then going up to the 9

As well as letting your partner know what your suit count is, don't forget to watch for your partner's card count signals too, and try to remember them !

Ah, there's so much to remember. Maybe start by trying to remember only for any obviously important suits.

Is it the same when partner first leads a suit ?

No it's not. In almost all cases, tell partner about your attitude, not your count. That's for all those reasons noted elsewhere

  • King led, so Kount. The slightly rare exception, that many people wisely use, is when your partner leads a King, either because he has just 2 cards (the AK only), or has the KQx.... In either case he will not be able to lead them to you again (the enemy has the Ace, or you do, which will soon become obvious) and thus in either case your partner does not care about your Attitude. In this case, when your partner leads a King use "Count" ("Kount"?),

(But yes, it does still matter which low card you play !)



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