Wednesday, September 29, 2010

More thoughts on defensive signaling

I was a little disappointed to get no response, comments, whatever on my earlier contribution to defensive signaling: Show and Tell – More on Defensive Strategy.  Indeed the only reaction I got was from my own favorite partner who thought my idea was all wrong.

Yet, we had just suffered a bad result where, if we had both been following my ideas, we might have averted disaster.  The scene was a pickup game against the GIBs: this was the hand.  The opponents were in 2C doubled after my rather pushy negative double was left in.  It turns out that they can always make 2C but there was just a chance that maybe we could get a heart ruff provided the HJ was led at trick 3.  I led my trump to the 9, T and Q.  At trick 2 declarer played a small club to partner's J on which my discard was the S9.  According to my "show and tell" ideas, this card was purely informative (show in this case because there was no apparent defensive urgency).  After all, I had to pitch something and I certainly had plenty spades to spare.  Partner thought it was a more active signal (a "command") to switch to spades.  Nothing really bad happened: according to GIB, we were never setting this contract.  But partner was convinced that a H switch would have got us a ruff (and the setting trick). 

So, what is it really that distinguishes between show and tell.  In my previous blog I suggested it was all about distribution and level.  The more distribution and/or higher level, the more urgency exists (and therefore telling is most effective). 

But now, I'm thinking perhaps it has more to do with the dummy.  Assuming that dummy is where the ruffs, if any, are going to occur (not always the case after a transfer or in the case of a dummy reversal), the dummy pretty much dictates the type of hand.  If dummy has a good long suit with entries, or will be able to do some ruffing (bearing in mind that declarer may be able to throw dummy's losers on his own good suit and then ruff in the now short suit) then "tell" signals should prevail.  The level of urgency has been increased by an "active" dummy.

Either way, in the hand in question, dummy was pretty much rubbish and would have required a few thousand volts to make it in any way active.  So, signaling should be to show assets rather than directing the defense.

Now, does anyone have any comments?  If I'm oversimplifying something, then let me hear it!

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