AGAINST NO-TRUMPS, DEFENDER’S FIRST SPOT CARD, UNLESS IT IS ESSENTIAL TO GIVE THE COUNT, SHOULD INDICATE ATTITUDE THE OPENING LEADER'S SUIT.

 

Dorothy Hayden Truscott (U.S.A)  

The former Dorothy Hayden is married to Alan Truscott, who once represented Britain in the Bermuda Bowl and is now bridge columnist of the New York Times. Mrs Truscott has the unique record of having representing her country in all four forms of major competition: Bermuda Bowl, Venice Trophy, Olympiad Pairs and Olympiad Teams. Only one other woman has played in the Bermuda Bowl. In the three contests for the Venice Trophy, Mrs Truscott has been on the winning side every time, once against Britain, twice against Italy. Her wins in ACBL tournaments include the Blue Ribbon Pairs and the Lifemaster Pairs.

   As Dorothy Hayden, she is the author of two books, Bid Better, Play Better and Winning Declarer Play, the second of which was published in Britain by Robert Hale.

   Of the outstanding woman players, some are essentially ‘flair’ players, possessing exceptional card sense; Rixi Markus, Fritzi Gordon and the late Helen Sobel belong to that category. Others have worked hard at the game and have developed a sound technique. Mrs Truscott, stands somewhere between the two – a mathematician with a first-class mind that could have been applied with equal success to any intellectual pastime. Her tip is concerned with defensive signalling and is entitled ‘Show Attitude to the Opening Leaders Suit’:

   ‘The last innovation in signalling came 40 years ago when suit preference signals were introduced. But in all that time there has been a serious gap in signalling methods available to the defenders. Her tip, a modification of a suggestion by T.R.H.Lyons, of England, is an attempt to fill that gap.

   ‘Suppose West leads the spade 4 against 3NT and sees this:

 

9 7

 

A 10 8 4 2

 

J played

 

K played

 

 

   ‘Dummy plays the 7, East the jack, and declarer the king. Who has the queen? West can’t tell. If he gets the lead in some other suit, should he try to cash his spades or should he wait for partner to lead the sit?

   ‘My Bols Tip is this: Against no-trumps, defender’s first spot card, unless it is essential to give count, should indicate attitude to the opening leader’s suit.

 

 

 

ª

9 7

 

 

 

 

©

Q 10 2

 

 

 

 

¨

7 6 5 4

 

 

 

 

§

A K Q J

 

 

ª

A 10 8 4 

N

ª

Q J 5

©

9 8 7

W                 E

©

K J 6 4

¨

K 3

 

¨

10 9 8

§

9 7 3

 S

§

10 8 2

 

 

ª

K 6 3

 

 

 

 

©

A 5 3

 

 

 

 

¨

A Q J 2

 

 

 

 

§

6 5 4

 

 

                       South                       North

                         1¨                    2§

                        2NT                 3NT

 

   ‘West leads the 4 of spades against 3NT. Declarer wins East’s jack with the king and leads a club to dummy. East should play the 10 of clubs on this trick, meaning: “I love your lead, partner. Please continue”. (Notice that it would be virtually useless for East to give his partner the count of the club suit here.) Declarer takes the diamond finesse, and when West wins the king he cashes four spades tricks, for one down.

   ‘Now suppose that the East and South cards had been slightly different:

 

 

ª

9 7

 

 

 

 

©

Q 10 2

 

 

 

 

¨

7 6 5 4

 

 

 

 

§

A K Q J

 

 

ª

A 10 8 4 

N  

ª

J 6 5

©

9 8 7

W                 E

©

A J 6 4

¨

K 3

 

¨

10 9 8

§

9 7 3

S

§

10 8 2

 

 

ª

K Q 3

 

 

 

 

©

K 5 3

 

 

 

 

¨

A Q J 2

 

 

 

 

§

6 5 4

 

 

 

   ‘The bidding is the same and West, who has the same hand as before, makes the same opening lead and sees the same dummy. Again declarer wins the jack of spades with the king and leads a club. This time, however, East cannot stand a spade continuation from partner, so he contributes the §2.

   ‘Declarer takes diamond finesse, losing to the king. West now knows he can’t afford to continue spades from his side of the table, and he exits with the ©9. East grabs the trick, returns the ª6, and the contract fails by two tricks.

   ‘Note that in both these cases West would have been on a complete guess without the “attitude” signal. And if he had guessed wrong, declarer would have made both games’.

   ‘Complete guess’ puts it a bit high, I think. Most players would scramble out of the first dilemma, at any rate, by some energetic suit-preference signalling. East having ªQ-J-5, would play §10 on the first round of clubs, ¨10 on the first round of diamonds. On some occasions, of course, there would be less scope for suit preference, though the whole discussion contains the implication that the defender has a choice. Mrs Truscott continues  :

   ‘The opening leader should also use the same attitude signal. In the situations already given he should play §9 on the second trick to emphasise that he wants the suit to be continued. But sometimes West will want to discourage partner from pursuing the originally led:

 

 

ª

5 4 3 2

 

 

 

 

©

9

 

 

 

 

¨

A Q J 10 7

 

 

 

§

A J 4

 

 

ª

A Q 10 6

N

ª

J 9 8

©

J 8 6 4 2

W                 E

©

Q 10 5 3

¨

9 6 2

 

¨

K 3

§

5

S

§

8 7 6 3

 

 

ª

K 7

 

 

 

 

©

A K 7

 

 

 

 

¨

8 5 4

 

 

 

 

§

K Q 10 9 2

 

 

                South                       West                 North                  East

                         -                                           -                      1¨                        Pass

                    2§                       Pass                    2¨                        Pass

                    3NT                  Pass                    Pass                        Pass

 

   West elects to lead the ©4 against 3NT. Declarer takes East’s queen with the king and tries diamond finesse. If West wanted hearts to be returned he would play the diamond 9 on this trick. If he were lukewarm about the matter he might play the 6.

   ‘With his actual hand, however, West is most anxious for a shift and should play the 2. East wins with the king and can bat the contract with a spade shift. If he blindly continues hearts, declarer will make eleven tricks.

   Mrs Truscott tip led to a certain amount of agitated correspondence. Dealing rather gingerly with the matter in a subsequent edition of the IBPA  Bulletin, the editor, Albert Dormer, wrote:

 Mrs Truscott described her tip as: “…a modification of a suggestion by T.R.H Lyons of England…” It is indeed true that Mrs Truscott’s suggestion was prompted by an article written by Flt. Lt. Lyons – a Royal Air Force officer serving abroad – and he is to be congratulated on having conceived this idea. But the fact is that the idea is not new.

   ‘Under the title, “A New Signal for Defenders”, Mr I.G.Smith put forward a virtually identical scheme of signalling with detailed examples in the December 1963 issue of the British Bridge World ‘.

   ‘In other words, the idea of a signal relating to a declarer’s attitude to the suit led against no-trumps has been around for some time – not that this was any reason why the notion should not be developed in the course of a Bols Tip. The basic idea of Smith Peters was that a peter in the first suit played be the declarer should signify undisclosed values in the suit led by partner; but the opening leader himself used the peter only to deter his partner from returning the first suit. Mr Smith’s original article also drew attentions to other occasions where this kind of information is vital to defenders, such as:

(1)

 

x x

 

J 9 x x x

 

A Q x

 

K 10 x

 

(2)

 

Q x

 

K 10 x x x

 

J x x

 

A x x

 

   In (1) East correctly plays the queen on the first round and South wins with the king. The defence will go wrong unless West is able to read the position. In (2), after dummy’s queen has been played, East will drop his middle card, but West may still not be confident about the jack.

   Dormer and I once proposed yet another scheme of this nature, called the ‘Oddball’. (Probably someone else thought of that too!) The idea was that any irregular play by either defender, such as an echo with three cards or the meaningless play of an honour card, should continue an endorsement of the suit originally led. Thus, if you wish to compare the alternative ideas:

 

To advise continuation of the first suit led:

 

  Leader plays    Leader’s partner plays  
Smith:  not a peter    a peter  
Lyons-Truscott:  unnecessarily  high card   unnecessarily  high card  
Oddball: any irregular  card   any irregular  card

 

The Italian idea which in Britain we call (rightly or wrongly) ‘Busso’ is also worth noting. This involves ‘attitude’ leads. The principle is that the lower the card led, the stronger the suggestion that the future of the defence appears to lie in this suit. Remember the West hand in Mrs Truscott’s third example:

                                    ª A Q 10 6

                                    © J 8 6 4 2

                                    ¨  9 6 2                                     

                                    § 3

Playing Busso you would lead the 6 of hearts, immediately conveying to your partner that you had prospects apart from the suit led. Had the hearts been A-J-8-6-2 and the spades A-x-x-x, you would have led the ©2. With a long but not so strong suit, such as K-9-7-5-3-2, you might lead the 3, reserving the option later to discard the 5 (meaning that you still favoured this suit) or the 2 (meaning that a switch should be considered)

   When none of these methods are in use, it may be possible to flash the vital message, not through a conventional signal, but by inviting partner to use his brains.

 A sparkling play suggested by Peter Swinnerton-Dyer (now Sir Peter, the seventh baronet and Master of St Catherine’s college, Cambridge), stays in the mind.

 

 

ª

K 9 5

 

 

 

 

©

A K Q J 5

 

 

 

 

¨

Q J 6

 

 

 

 

§

10 5

 

 

ª

Q J 6 4 2

N

ª

7 3

©

10 2

W                 E

©

9 7 6

¨

K 10 2

 

¨

A 9 74

§

A Q 9

S

§

J 7 4 3

 

 

ª

A 10 8

 

 

 

 

©

8 4 3

 

 

 

 

¨

8 5 3

 

 

 

 

§

K 8 6 2

 

 

        South                        West                    North                East

 Pass                         1ª                          Dble                 Pass

1NT                        Pass                          2NT                Pass

3NT                        Pass                           Pass               Pass                   

West led the ª4 and declarer won with the 10, returning a diamond. Dummy’s jack was taken by East, who  continued spades. Now South was able to establish a diamond for nine tricks.

   Peter, who was West, blamed himself. Declarer can be counted for eight tricks in the major suits. On the first diamond West must go in with the king and exit with a heart! The abandonment of spades ells East that only a club switch holds hope, and his subsequent lead of the jack defeats the contract.