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EXTEND YOUR DISTRIBUTIONAL SIGNALS

PIERRE JAIIS

Pierre Jaiis a Parisian doctor, died in 1988, aged 75. A WBF Grand Master, he and his partner, Roger Trezel, were the first players to win the triple crown of Bermuda Bowl (1956), World Teams Olympiad (1960) and World Pairs (1962). His partnership with Trezel, one of the world's strongest in the 1950s and 1960s, demonstrated the effectiveness of canape, a bidding style where short suits are bid first. He is the author of more than a dozen books on the game, perhaps the most famous of which is How to Win at Rubber Bridge .

 

My BOLS tip concerns the vital subject of signalling. You can effect quite an improvement in your defensive play by increasing the use of suit-length signals to cover new situations.

Practically everybody knows how to use standard count signals on the first round of a suit: you play high-low to show an even number of cards and low-high to show an odd number.

In the following diagram you are East and your partner leads the king of hearts.

                 Dummy

            J84

Partner                   You

           KQ87                      6532 

                           Declarer

               A10

On the lead of the king you start an echo with the six, showing an even number.

So far, so good, but what happens when the cards are divided like this:

 

            Dummy

          J32      

Partner                  You

         K954                       Q876 

                        Declarer

                                     A10

 

This time West leads the four, dummy plays low and your queen loses to the ace. Later your partner gains the lead in another suit and lays down the king of hearts. In certain circumstances it could be vital for West to know that South started with only two hearts. In fact, if there is no outside entry to dummy, West will be able to switch to another suit and declarer may never come to a second heart trick.

My suggestion is that, as East, you should echo - or not echo - with your remaining cards in order to show how many you still have. In the above example, where East has three cards left, he should follow suit with the six on the second round. With Q76 originally, East would follow with the seven on the second round, starting an echo to show two cards remaining.

 

THE use of this signal enabled my partner to produce a nice defence to beat a game contract in a recent match:

 

South Dealer

K J 8 6 3

 

 

 

Love All

 Q 10

 

 

 

 

 J 4

 

 

 

 

 J10 4 2

 

 

 

 

 

             N

 

 

 A 9 7 2

 

 

Q 10 5 4

 K 4

 

W                         E

 8 7 3 2

 Q 6 5 3

 

 

 K 8 7 2

 Q 8 7

 

 

 6

 

 

 

             S

 

 

 

 

 ---

 

 

 

 

 A J 9 6 5

 

 

 

 

 A 10 9

 

 

 

 

 A K 9 5 3

 

 

                           

W

N

E

S

 

 

 

1

Pass

1♠

Pass

2♣

Pass

2

Pass

3♣

Pass

4♣

Pass

4

 

All

Pass

 

 

 

 

 

 

West led the three of diamonds and my king lost to South's ace. Declarer led a small heart towards the dummy, my partner winning with the king.

My partner had good hopes of defeating the contract by taking one trick in each suit. The bidding had marked South with at least five hearts and five clubs. If South had two diamonds and one spade, the contract was sure to fail. However, if South held three diamonds and no spades the defenders would have only three fast tricks and my partner would need to think again ... which is just what he did.

At the third trick my partner led the queen of diamonds, on which I played the two. Declarer false-carded with the ten but my partner of course decided to believe me. My play of the lowest diamond showed an odd number of cards remaining in the suit, and South was therefore known to have started with three diamonds. My partner now knew that the ace of spades would be ruffed if he led it.

Accordingly, West switched to the two of spades. Declarer, who was faced with a difficult guess, finessed the jack in dummy and was forced to ruff my queen. Declarer now needed all his trumps to draw mine, and when West eventually came in with the queen of clubs he was able to cash the ace of spades for down one.

 

My BOLS bridge tip is this:  

Arrange with your partner to play length signals from the remaining cards in a suit when you have not been able to start such a signal on the first round.  

You will find that this extra exchange of information enables you to defeat many more contracts.

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