THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
TELL YOUR PARTNER WHICH SUIT TO LEAD
Raymond Teller, presumably talking about Penn Jillette, said, “We did not start as friends, but as people who respected and admired each other. Crucial, absolutely crucial for a partnership.”
That is an excellent starting point for a bridge partnership. In particular, you need to be able to trust your partner’s bids and plays. But there are times when, on defense, one partner is not sure which way to turn. Then, the other partner should try to signal the right road — as in this deal.
How should East-West card to defeat three spades after West leads his singleton club?
Note South’s jump to two spades, which promised some 9-11 points by an unpassed hand. West’s three-diamond rebid was aggressive, but it worked well here. First, it pushed the opponents up to three spades. Second, if East had gone on to four diamonds, that contract would have made.
East knows that the opening lead is a singleton or the higher card from a doubleton. And especially if West has led a singleton, he is wondering how to get East on lead to receive a club ruff. This is where the suit-preference signal comes in. If East has the diamond king, he should play his lowest club at trick one — the low card keying to the lower-ranking of the other two side suits. Here, though, East should play his highest club to tell partner that he has something useful in hearts.
South will take the first trick and play a trump, but West will win and shift to a heart. Then, in the fullness of time, the defenders will take two spades, one heart and two diamonds for down one.