Easy Guide to Defensive Signals
Pottage (Julian)
This Page provides (where held) the Abstract of the above Book and those of all the Papers contained in it.
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Back Cover Blurb

  1. Ever wonder why some partners seem to be able to read each other's minds? Why they are so successful at anticipating the other's intentions, avoiding all pitfalls and traps, and seem to win every time? The answer is that they are not usually guessing – by learning defensive signals it is possible for even novice players to drastically improve their game.
  2. Defence is the most difficult part of bridge, but it can be made easier by using signals to help Partner along the way to success. The book will enable readers to use, recognise and understand all the standard defensive signals used in bridge and to gain an awareness of alternative methods.

  1. Have you ever thought why many players, probably including yourself, find it easier to be declarer than a defender? One reason is that as declarer you can see your partner's hand while as a defender you cannot. It is so much easier to make the most of your side's assets if you can see what they are. This is where defensive signals come in. They enable the defenders to tell each other about their hands.
  2. In the fifth edition of the Pocket Oxford Dictionary, the definition of a signal is a sight or sound meant to convey orders or information. In a bridge context sight or sound means the play of a card. The orders will tend to be a request for partner to lead or not lead a particular suit, while the information will tend to say something about your holding in a suit and leave partner to decide how to defend.
  3. In bridge, people who talk about signals usually mean one of three things:
    • An attitude signal,
    • A count signal, or
    • A suit-preference signal.
    • An attitude signal: you either show or deny interest in a suit.
    • A count signal: you show whether you possess an odd or even number of cards in the suit.
    • A suit-preference signal: you express an interest in a particular suit other than the one that you are playing.
    I shall of course be covering all of these in detail.
  4. When you review the definition of signal above, it becomes clear it covers other plays. Suppose your first lead is the queen of spades. You are usually saying two or even three things about your hand:
    • 'I have the jack of spades',
    • 'I do not have the king of spades' and, perhaps,
    • 'I have length in spades.'
    I shall deal with this type of position as well.
  5. For any type of signal to work, at bridge or otherwise, it is necessary for three conditions to be satisfied.
    • Firstly, the person giving the signal and the recipient must know that it is a signal.
    • Secondly, the giver and the receiver must know what type of signal is suitable for a given moment.
    • Thirdly, the giver needs to know how to encode the signal and the receiver to decode it.
    As a defender you will be the giver half the time and the receiver half the time. This means you need to start watching for your partner's signals and to play with people who will look for and act on yours. If they are not already familiar with the content of this book, it will help you if your regular partner(s) also read it.
  6. You will find that the signals covered in the first half of the book are simpler or, at any rate, more basic than those in the second half. If you have played very few signals in the past, you may find it helpful to read the first five or six chapters several times before moving on to the second half of the book. Do not worry if there seems to be a lot to take in all at once. On many of the example deals the defenders exchange more than one signal, which means you will get frequent reminders about the earlier material. Whichever way you approach the book, you should find the effort worthwhile. Time and time again you will find that using a defensive signal transforms a 50-50 guess into a sure thing or greatly increases your chance of making the right decision.
  7. Many people, when they first start using signals regularly, have the occasional accident. A common post-mortem goes something like this 'Why did you signal for a club?' to which the reply comes: 'I didn't know that I had.' With practice, however, you will find that misunderstandings are few and far between and that the gains vastly outweigh the losses.
  8. You are probably aware that there are a variety of bidding systems in use around the world (Acol, Standard American, Precision etc.). The same is true, although arguably to a more limited extent, when it comes to defensive signals. To keep life simple I have excluded discussion of the various non-standard or exclusively expert methods from the main part of the book and devoted the final chapter to this purpose.

    Introduction - 7
  1. Basic Signals on Partner's Lead - 9
  2. Basic Signals on an Opponent's Lead - 24
  3. Basic Discards - 39
  4. Basic Suit-preference Signals - 51
  5. Basic Continuations and Returns - 63
  6. Basics of Leading New Suits - 73
  7. More on Following to Partner's Lead - 85
  8. More on Following to an Opponent's Lead - 104
  9. More on Discarding - 114
  10. More on Continuations and Returns - 124
  11. More on Leading New Suits - 134
  12. Non-standard Methods - 146

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  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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