By David Bird, Marc Smith
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Extra info for Defensive Signaling (The Bridge Technique Series)
D. i) Play the two. Although you have a doubleton, it is highly likely that your trump will have been drawn by the time partner regains the lead. You do not, therefore, want to encourage him to continue spades. ii) Play the two. For the same reasons as above. Although you hold three trumps this time, dummy’s holding suggests that declarer is likely to draw your trumps before partner regains the lead. iii) Play the eight. Unless declarer has revealed a solid trump suit in the bidding, the odds strongly favor your partner regaining the lead before your trumps are exhausted.
It follows that when instead you lead a king, asking for a count signal, your honor holding will be stronger — headed by the A-K-J or AK-J-10. At notrump, a king lead asks primarily that you unblock any honor that you may hold. Only when you do not hold an honor, do you give a length signal. Let’s see how this works: ♥ 9 2 ♥ A K J 10 5 ♥ 8 6 3 ♥ Q 7 4 You lead the king and partner plays the three. He has not unblocked the queen, so you know that declarer holds this card. You know also that both partner and declarer hold three cards in the suit.
Look back for a last time at the full diagram for that 4♠ contract. If you were playing attitude signals you would have to discourage from four small, three small or two small, in case partner was leading from K-Q-10-x and was in danger of continuing the suit to South’s jack. You can see how little help this would give partner, with his actual holding. It has probably occurred to you by now that playing count signals can be hard work. No longer can you look at your partner’s card and just continue or not as he instructs.