Eric Kokish
Eric Kokish

Wikipedia: Eric O. Kokish (born 1947) is a Canadian professional bridge player, writer, and coach from Montreal. Kokish graduated from McGill University.

Kokish has been the coach of Nick Nickell’s professional team for many years. He first worked as coach for the Brazil national team in 1985 and later coached the Indonesia team briefly, a stint interrupted by political unrest in Jakarta. Around the Indonesia job he and his family relocated from Montreal to Toronto.

Kokish was inducted into the ACBL Hall of Fame in 2011. Kokish was inducted into the Canadian Bridge Federation’s Hall of Fame.

IMPs Dealer North. N/S Vul

10 7 4 2
K
A K 4
A J 8 7 4
A
10 9 7 6
7 6 5 3
Q 9 6 2
West North East South
1 1 2
Pass 2NT Pass 4
Pass Pass Pass

Opening lead:A

This deal is from a match berween France and Sweden in the European Team Championships held in Portugal in July 1995. You are West and, on your lead of theA, partner follows with the9 and declarer the8.

What do you think partner’s9 signal should mean at this trick?

What is your play to trick two?

Straighy count, which tells you only that East has an even number (high spade) or an odd number (low spade) of cards, is not of much use. In simple standard methods, this situation calls for an “attitude” signal; East plays a high card to encourage spades, a low one to suggest that a switch might be better, with no reference to which suit that might be. A variation on this idea is that when East discourages a spade continuation, he can stand the so-called “normal” or “obvious” switch. With no weak side suit in dummy, the more attractive switch would generally be dummy’s shorter suit.

An attactive idea, where East is know to have several cards with which to signal, is to treat a middle spade as encouraging, or at least “neutral”, low and high spades as suit preference, generally discounting the trump suit. However, when the trump suit might well be the right one to play, it should not be left out. (It is wise to note that “encouraging” doesn’t mean that you must play the suit; it merely suggests that neither of the allegedly appealing switches really suits you.)

In the event, both defenders cashed theA at trick one, then had to find a switch. One tried a club. declarer won, unblocked the Q, and crossed to theA to take two spade pitches on the diamonds. He had to lose two trump tricks, but the contract made.

The other defender found the killing trump switch. His partner won the ace and played two mor round of spades, for one down.

The complete deal:

10 7 4 2
K
A K 4
A J 8 7 4
A
10 9 7 6
7 6 5 3
Q 9 6 2
K 9 6 5 3
A
J 10 9 8 2
10 5
Q J 8
Q J 8 5 4 3 2
Q
K 3

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