Dorking Bridge Club
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Signals and Discards

Passing information to your partner is a key skill for defending. The declarer does not have this problem as he can see both hands.

This page will cover:

  1. Response to partners leads
  2. Signals with discards

The key question partner wants to know when he leads a suit is whether to continue with that suit or switch to another one - ATTITUDE. Unless clear this is the priority message to be given.


Attitude Response to Partners Lead

We all learn STANDARD ATTITUDE which is the most commonly used.

High spot card - Encourage

Low card - Discourage

One must always look at dummy and check with the bidding whether it is sensible to continue the suit.  If in doubt or nothing better, encourage with a high card.

Here are some useful articles:


Reverse (Or Negative) Attitude.

The majority of top players use reverese attitude as:

  1. It is easier to give a high card in a suit you are not interested in.
  2. The playing of a low card is often clearer to partner than a high card.

Short Intro to Reverse Attitude and Upside Down Count


Dummy Has A Singleton

Obviously playing attitude when dummy can trump the next lead does not make sense so it is normal to show the suit you want played next. Play a high card to show the highest of the two other suits (not trumps or the suit played). The order of suits is from low to high ♣   ♠ . To want the lowest suit - play low.



This helps partner decide on the action to take. The most important message is normally attitude, count is normally shown on the second card played but is less important.

On standard attitude one shows an even number by the second card being lower than the first one played in a suit. e.g. high-low to partners lead shows an even number and an interest in the suit. The play of a high card suggests an even number of cards.

With reverese attitude (upside count) one shows an even number by playing low then high. 



When discarding you can show your partner what suit to attack because you have honours in the suit, or shortage or length.

There are a number of different systems:


Attitude Discards

Simple method

  • Depending on the type of attitude you are using a discard can show 
    1. Standard attititude a high discard says you like the suit (or reverse attitude a high discard would deny interest).
    2. Using standard attitude a low discard would deny interest (or reverse attitude a low discard would show interest).



A lot of players ar Dorking use this.

An even card shows an interest in the suit.

An odd card denies an interest in the suit.


McKenny or Lavinthal

The discard suggest either the lower or the lower of the two other suits (not trumps or the suit being discarded on). Suit order from Low to High is ♣   ♠ .

A high one is the higher of the two suits.


A Great Introduction to all discard systems by Julian Potage



Advanced Links

Very Comprehensive  Summary of Defensive Signals

Lightner Double

Doesn't happen often. Only over a freely bid slam.

A Lightner double is a lead-directing double of an enemy slam contract. It frequently implies a void, and asks partner for a ruff. Generally speaking, partner is asked to:

  1. Lead dummy's side suit, if one has been bid
  2. Lead declarer's side suit, if one has been bid
  3. Make any other unusual lead - usually partner's longest suit to get a ruff

Additionally, the double asks partner to NOT lead any suit that your side has bid.