Have You Discussed? Part II
On 5 March, 2013 At 18:17
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A bit of déjà vu. At a tournament in Hawaii, one of the better players spent no small amount of time perusing a convention card before complaining to her opponent that it was so old and messy that she couldn’t read it.
“But,” said the opponent, “that’s not my card.” The complainer’s face quickly turned bright red when she realized she was looking at her own convention card.
One of the sections on the convention card pertains to a partnership’s carding agreements: what is led from certain honour combinations, whether signals are standard or upside down, whether leads are fourth best, third-and-fifth or “attitude,” and what is conveyed by the partnership’s discards.
This is an area that absolutely must be discussed. There is nothing more frustrating than letting through a contract that should have been defeated because one or both partners made poor decisions that could have been avoided.
No doubt you and partner have discussed whether your leads are fourth best or something else, but have you talked about your leads when you have competed in the auction.
Suppose you are on lead against a spade contract after partner opened 1 and you raised to two. What is your lead with 9 6 4? Most experienced players would start with the 9 to show a poor holding. Partner won’t think it’s a doubleton because you raised.
It’s different if partner bid hearts but you didn’t raise. In that case, you would lead low from three to the nine because you don’t want partner to misdefend thinking you have a doubleton.
If you play upside-down signals, have you discussed your second play in a suit? Say you led the 2 from 8 4 2, partner’s suit (not supported by you). Later, partner gets in and cashes a trick in that suit. Most players follow with a “current count” spot – that is, low from three remaining cards, high from two. If you are using upsidedown signals, do you give current count in upside-down style, or do you follow with normal current count carding? Either method would work as long as you and partner are on the same page.
Have you discussed the message sent in suits played in the middle of the defence? Perhaps you led some suit against no-trump and find yourself on lead at trick four or five. If the previous plays tell you that leading your suit again is fruitless and you have a second suit that might produce some tricks, you want to send a signal to partner that will get him to do the right thing. If he wins the trick, you want him to return that suit, not your original suit.
How do you accomplish this? By switching to a low card in your other suit, indicating a good holding.
On the other hand, if you know that the second lead of your original suit must come from partner, you can try to find his entry in another suit. To get him to return your original suit, switch to a high card in the second suit. If partner can win, he will know to return your first suit.
When you are defending, the first time you cannot follow suit presents an opportunity for you to send a message to partner. It’s important to discuss the possibilities with partner and decide on an approach that’s comfortable for both of you.
You can signal attitude in the suit discarded according to whether your signals are standard or upside-down. Incidentally, one advantage of upside-down signalling is that you don’t have to show encouragement by playing high cards that might well be tricks later on.
Some players use a method called odd-even discards. In ACBL games, you are allowed to use odd-even signals only on the first discard.
The method works this way: The discard of an “even” card (2, 4, 6, etc.) is discouraging in that suit and conveys suit preference. That is, the discard of the 2 on declarer’s spade winner discourages in hearts but implies some strength in clubs. The discard of the 8 would also discourage in hearts but imply values in diamonds.
Discards of odd-numbered cards are encouraging for the suit discarded.
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