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An Argument for Attitude

Is it better to primarily signal attitude or count upon partner’s opening lead? Most world class players signal attitude, but a significant minority prefers count (see my recent article World Class Players Signal Attitude).

Apart from players’ apparent preferences, I have seen few actual arguments for attitude versus count. My own primary argument for preferring attitude comes down to: third hand has more information.

To substantiate this, let's first disregard any and all information that is available to both players: the auction, the dummy, the opponents, how the match is going, et cetera.

Next, we disregard information that is not equal, but of which both players possess an equal amount, namely their own thirteen cards.

First hand has as additional information the signal to the first trick. This is usually binary, i.e., allows of just two possibilities: encouraging or discouraging, odd or even, or whatever applies; rarely there are three possibilities, like high, middle or low from ‘enough’ cards.

Third hand has as additional information the opening lead. First there is the choice of suit, which has four possibilities. Then there is the card led, which has about eight essentially different possibilities: ace through nine, middle card, lowest card (as preprinted on WBF or similar convention cards).


Third hand has much more information, and is therefore usually in a better position to direct the defense. I think this generally – barring clear exceptions – makes attitude the better choice of signal.

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