Jim Priebe

Hand of the Month for February (so far)

Take a look at two hands before reading further.



North (dummy)
West (You)  


The bidding at your table has gone


RHO You LHO Pard
1NT* 2 4 **  Pass
4 All Pass    
     *15 – 17 ** Texas Transfer 


You lead the king of hearts, dummy follows, partner plays the 8, and declarer the 3.  How do you continue?

The hand came up in the team league at John Rayner’s Mississauga club.  At one table, West read this as suit preference and switched to a diamond.  At the other table West read the signal as attitude and continued with the 7 of hearts.

Which do you prefer?

This was the whole hand.



West   East
———— QJ854
AK1076 82
KJ6 743
87654 Q93


If you continued with a heart, declarer has no play.  He runs the heart to his nine, pitching a diamond from dummy.  The spade king reveals the foul trump break.  The queen of hearts is covered, ruffed and over-ruffed.  A losing diamond finesse  followed by a fourth round of hearts leaves declarer one down.  Declarer can do nothing better against this defense.

At the other table, Debbie Feldman, the declarer, took full advantage of the diamond switch.  She won the diamond ten in dummy, played 3 rounds of clubs ruffing in hand and played the queen of hearts.  West covered, Debbie ruffed in dummy and only now touched trumps.  A spade to the king revealed the bad break.   Debbie played the Q of hearts, pitching a diamond from dummy, and East ruffed to win the trick.  This was the position.

—– East

West’s holding is Immaterial .

East played a diamond now.  Debbie won her ace and followed with a diamond ruff.  The spade ten now pickled East’s third trump trick.   He could do nothing but win and lead into dummy’s A9.

This is a pretty hand from both defender’s and declarer’s viewpoint.  At trick 2, West does not know whether partner is showing a doubleton or the queen, but he can be sure that partner sees no attractive switch.


ross taylorFebruary 18th, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Welcome to the world of blogging Jim. Congrats on your first blog – nice hand.

Dave Memphis MOJOFebruary 19th, 2010 at 12:48 am

Cute hand, thanks for sharing.

P.S. As for me, I prefer suit preference. Count and attitude don’t seem as important with dummy having shortness.

Chris CowanFebruary 19th, 2010 at 2:06 pm

I like suit preference too, but what card does East play at trick 1? Does he want a club through his queen or a diamond? Or neither? Not much choice. And if he prefers a diamond to a club should partner ignore his signal and continue hearts?

Nice hand Jim :))

ross taylorFebruary 20th, 2010 at 8:37 pm

When the defense can take no more tricks in a led suit, Keith and I play high & low cards are suit preference, so East would play the 2 for a Club shift. We suggest the Club 8 is the right card to lead. It’s hard to see how declarer can take 10 tricks after a club shift.

When we have length in the led suit, we have the option of playing a middle card to suggest a continuation.

Jim PriebeFebruary 23rd, 2010 at 4:28 pm

The approach I advocate is to play standard signaling methods when a singleton in the led suit appears in dummy. Continuations are based on “obvious shift” analysis.

Of course, the “obvious shift” is not always obvious. But neither is suit preference signaling always perfect.

The advantage of regular signals is that forcing dummy is often the best defense: you may be protecting a trump trick, or starting a trump control (forcing) defense. And, of course, there are times when you cannot stand a shift.

My use of the term “standard signals” here has nothing to do with upside down versus standard – use whatever partner prefers.

Blair FedderFebruary 23rd, 2010 at 5:20 pm

The diamond shift is a defensive killer, as the hand plays itself….it’s a fun hand.

Good luck on your future blogs, as I’m looking forward to more great hands.

Bob BambrickJuly 5th, 2010 at 11:57 pm

For fans of this issue, two recent relevant items in The Bridge World, July 2010, p. 29 letter from John Stiefel, Wethersfield, CT and p. 23 “Son of Defense at Trick One” by David J. Weiss, Fullerton, CA, Problem 2.

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