Wednesday, February 3, 2010

If you know what to do, do it

Phillip Alder has a bridge column, NEA Bridge, that appears in syndication in many local newspapers. (He also has another that appears two or three days a week in the NY Times.) The quality is usually quite good. This is from his Jan. 28, 2010 article.

You are on defense as West on this layout:

J 7
K J 10 2
K 10 8 5 2
9 6
K Q 6 2
9 7 5 4
J 8 5 3 2

Right-hand opponent opened 1, you passed and LHO bid 1. Partner overcalled 1 and RHO rebid 2. You jumped to 4 and North bid 5. Partner doubled and all passed.

You lead the K and partner plays the 3 (standard or right-side up signals). Is that discouraging, count or suit preference.

The article made a big point that it must be suit preference and West should trust his partner and shift to a club. Indeed, a club shift would set the contract. Here are all four hands:

J 7
K J 10 2
K 10 8 5 2
9 6
K Q 6 2 A 10 9 5 4 3
9 7 5 4 8 3
--- A
J 8 5 3 2 K Q 7 4
A Q 6
Q J 9 7 6 4 3
A 10

What's wrong with this picture? Why can't partner overtake the K himself instead of taking a chance that partner can't read the 3?

You can read the column if you click here.


  1. The only issue with overtaking the SK in order to switch to Clubs is the risk of having the SJ being promoted to be a useful discard when declarer has the singleton SQ.
    It is not uncommon to lead unsupported K/Q in partner's suit when one would like to retain the lead in order to make a knowledgeable switch at trick two.
    Alter slightly the layout to give the opening leader a hand with Kxxx Spades instead of KQxx and I think the SK stands out as the correct lead - overtaking the K in this case would result in having one smug declarer and a disgruntled partner.

  2. This is too big a gap for me to bridge!

    You're funny! Fall out of the canoe and break the law! Heh. Heh!

  3. I don't get it. Why should that be a suit preference signal?
    - partner showed only 5 spades
    - declarer never made a high-level aggressive bid, lefty did (due to 5 trumps). Declarer can easily have 2 spades.

    Of course, playing odd-even, there's no problem. Partner is known to have spade length, so a low even card (the 4) indicates a) switch b) clubs please. I've heard a claim that such signaling (used world wide ~50 years as Italian signals) is illegal in the U.S., so maybe that's an issue.

  4. @Arik: yes, there's some chance pard led the king for Kxxx AND the discard will be useful. That must be weighed against the chance West won't read the low spade.

    @Amnon Harel: I might be wrong, but I think you can used odd/even discards in ACBL-land, but only as a discard, not as a signal to partner's led card.