More Defence: Attitude Signals

The “More Defence” lesson modules have been designed to build on the Online School Curriculum. They include some Quick Tips to help you focus on the lesson topic. Signalling to partner in defence shows whether partner would like you to continue the suit they led or not. It’s absolutely essential to read partner’s cards correctly.

Then you can play and review the lesson hands. If more time, complete the third Defence lesson: Attitude Signals in Defence

Quick Tips

  • When your partner (the opening leader) or dummy has won the first trick, it is now your turn to make an attitude signal about your “attitude” to their lead

  • The card you play as the third player should be as clear an indication as possible to ask partner to continue that suit or not

  • Low to encourage is popular, and that means the lower the card you play, the more you want partner to continue that suit

  • You could also play a high card of another suit which has the same effect of telling partner NOT to continue the suit (to find a switch)

  • The first discard is also an opportunity to make an encouraging or discouraging signal

This week’s hand for panel discussion:

After you’ve played hand 4 above, and can see the hands, Matt Smith gives us his insights into the way he thinks as a defender:

He counts declarers’ points and their tricks. On this hand:
1) High Card Points (hcp):
14 hcp (in my hand) + 9 hcp (when you see dummy) = 23 hcp.
40 total hcp in all four hands, so partner and declarer must have 17 hcp. Declarer could have as few as 12 hcp, so partner's maximum is 5 hcp. Partner's ♦️Q shows 3 hcp's,♦️Q & ♦️J, so they can’t also hold the ♣K.

2) Count Declarer's Tricks (the most important defensive skill to practise):  Declarer has the rest of the honour cards. Their hand will looks something like♠AQ432
That hand is quite weak, yet declarer has five spade tricks and five heart tricks for ten total tricks. Declarer is ready to make their major game.  We must be active on defence and try to beat it immediately. 

David Appleton.jpg

David Appleton

Partner is playing the ♦️Q to give me a message. Either they hold the ♦️J or they have only a singleton diamond (that is impossible on this hand). I would like them to be on lead to play through declarer's putative king (♣K).
Hence, I'll now try a small diamond to partner's ♦️J so they can play a club for me. Well signalled, partner!

GeO Tislevoll.jpeg

GeO Tislevoll

Partner's ♦️Q play on my ♦️A lead promises the ♦️J. Therefore, I can underlead my ♦️K in the second trick to put partner on lead unless he holds seven diamonds which is not likely (in which case the declarer has a singleton).
North will play back a club, finessing the declarer's ♣K, and we take the first four tricks to beat the contract.  

Matt Smith.png

Matt Smith

Partner's ♦️Q shows the ♦️J.  We should continue with the ♦️2 to ♦️J so they can switch to a club.

Then we'll take two diamond tricks and two club tricks to beat their game.


Joan Butts

Trusting partner’s carding here is essential. If you’re holding only three diamonds, partner’s ♦️Q can’t be a singleton, so they’ve played that card on purpose. Why? Because they wanted to tell you that they could AFFORD to play the ♦️Q…because they are also holding the ♦️J. They wouldn’t play it if it risked blowing a trick, and they know that.
The boys agree that you should now trust dear old partner over there, and play a low diamond at trick 2 to partner’s promised ♦️J. Partner wanted you to do this, so that they could now return a club for you. They also know that your club suit must have a problem because otherwise you would have led a top club. How subtle and satisfying good defence is!

Related Workbook

The Defence Workbook contains hands analysis and lesson tips and tricks.

Test your knowledge

The quiz below may not work properly on some mobile devices. If you are having trouble using it, please click here to open the quiz in its own window.