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††††† Signaling is the language of defensive play.†† It is the method by which the defenders legitimately exchange information about the make‑up of their hands.† It is critical to the defense making the greatest number of tricks to which they are entitled; to limit Declarerís tricks and to potentially set the contract at hand.† Many signaling techniques are available to the defense with the major ones consisting of:
1.The High-Card Come-On:†† ‑† The play of an unnecessarily high card on either the opponent's or partner's trick is a come‑on signal showing a preference for that suit and probable next round control.†† It asks partner to lead that suit again at his/her next opportunity.†† (EX. Play the 8 on the Ace holding K862)†† One should never use a potential trick‑taking card for such a signal† (EX. KJ72 not KJ72).† Once given the come‑on, partner may, of course, refuse to lead the suit if he/she thinks there is a better one, or if the lead of that suit may be trumped, and therefore a continuance be worthless.† Such a signal could also be the start of a high‑low signal to be discussed later.
2. Low Card Discouragement:†† ‑† The opposite of the high card come‑on† . It is the play of the lowest possible card when following suit thereby denying next round control, the ability to trump, or any other valid reason for partner to continue that suit or to play it at his/her next opportunity (Ex. 972).†† It might also be the start of a low‑high signal which shows an odd number of cards (1,3, or 5) held within that suit, thereby giving a count of the suit for partnerís information on that hand.
3. High-Low Signal:† ‑† The purposeful leading, following suit, or discarding of first a high and then a low card.† This is a come‑on signal asking for the continuance of that suit at partner's next opportunity for any one of the following reasons:
††††††††††††††† a) one may wish to trump the third round of that suit.
††††††††††††††† b) one may wish to signal the ability to take a third round trick in that same suit (Ex. QXX).
††††††††††††††† c) one may wish to force declarer to trump.
†††† d) give an signal of an even number of cards (2,4, or 6) held within that suit in order to give the†††††††
††† count as to the distribution of the hand.
4. The Trump Echo Signal:† ‑† The high‑low signaling in the Trump suit to show that that defender has at least one more piece of trump card and a ruffing capacity within his/her hand; i.e., shortness in a side suit.†† It is a signal to the partner that there is a real prospect of a ruffing trick for the defenders and that if the partner gets on lead for him/her to lead the suit that it is presumed can be trumped.
5. Giving Count or Attitude:†† ‑† (a) When your partner leads a suit, one should give an Attitude signal evidencing either a preference or dislike for continuance of the play of that suit by signaling partner either with a high-card encouragement signal or a †low-card discouragement signal.†† The leader of the suit is thus given information as to his partners desire for either a continuance of the suit or a switch to the play of an alternate suit.†† (b) When the opponents lead a suit, however, one should give partner Count as to the number of cards one possesses by evidencing an even number of cards (2,4,6, etc.) with a High-Low signal; and an odd number of cards (1,3,5, etc.) with a† Low-High signal.†† In this manner, partner is given information possibly important in the management of that suit in the later play of the hand.
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6. The Play of Cards Held In Sequence:†† ‑† When following to a suit played, one should play the lowest of the cards held in sequence (Ex. J109).†††† When leading a suit with a sequential holding , one should lead the highest card in the sequence (Ex. J109).
7. Primary Suit Discards For Signaling Suit Preference:† ‑† The play of any unnecessarily high card as one's first discard asks for the lead of that suit at partner's first opportunity for any of the following reasons:
††††††††††††††††††††††††††† a) The ability to trump that suit.
††††††††††††††††††††††††††† b) The holding of a high honor in that suit (A or K).
c) The desire to have the lead go through your right hand opponent in that suit (Ex. KJXX†††
††††† sitting behind AQ10).
8. Secondary Suit Discards For Signaling Suit Preference:† ‑† The play of the first discard such that an unusually low card signifies the desire to have the lead the lower of the other two suits exclusive of trump and the suit used for the discard).† Similarly, the play of the first discard of an unusually high card signifies the desire of the higher of the other two suits.† (Ex. the play of the 2H as the first discard to a spade trick would ask for a club lead.† The play of a 9H as the first discard to a spade trick would ask for a diamond trick.)
NOTE:† The play of Primary and Secondary suit discards are mutually exclusive.† By partnership†
†††††††††††††† understanding, one must play either one or the other, never both simultaneously.
9. Signaling Partner With The Card You Are Leading Knowing It To Be Ruffed By Partner:† ‑† You are leading a card in suit #1 that you are reasonably certain will be trumped with suit #2.† The lead of an unnecessarily low or high card gives direction as to the lower or higher, respectively,† of suits #3 and #4, for partner to be capable of returning to your hand after trumping for yet another ruffing opportunity.
†††† (Ex.) Spades are trump and you are lead the 3 of clubs.†† You hold:† 95† A76† KJ4† AQ1052
Since you hold the 2 of clubs and the lead of the three by partner, therefore, could not be the start of a high‑low doubleton signal, and since your holding of the AQ of clubs would by elimination , presume that partner has not led away from the K of clubs; it is, therefore, by elimination, a lead of a singleton in hopes for the ability of ruffing trick two when clubs is again next led.†† After taking the A of clubs, you must return the 10 of clubs for partner to ruff signaling the desire of partner to get back to you with a heart switch for you to gain entry again for the lead of another club for partner to then ruff once more.† The return of the 2 of clubs would have signaled the desire for a diamond return by partner for re-entry into your hand for an additional ruffing opportunity.