The Discard





The discard which in Whist has been the subject of so many

controversies, and which, even in Bridge, has created some discussion,

does not assume nearly so great importance in Auction. The strength of

the various suits having been clearly indicated by the bid, there is

not as great opportunity to furnish new information by the discard.



It must not, however, be assumed, merely because the Auction discard is

comparatively unimportant, that it is not worthy of consideration. True

it is that there is no need to worry over any such complicated systems

as strength or rotary discards. They are apt to confuse and produce

misunderstandings far more damaging than any possible benefit which

results when they work perfectly. The strength discard may compel the

playing of a card which, if its suit be established, will win a trick,

and the rotary is not always reliable, as the discarder may be void of

the "next suit," or unable to discard from it because it is composed of

high cards only or of necessary guards for single honors. The

"odd-and-even" discard, that is, 3, 5, 7, 9, showing strength, 2, 4, 6,

8, weakness, is very satisfactory when the hands are made to order, but

a certain proportion of hands fail to contain an odd card when the

discarder desires to announce strength, or an even one when he has

extreme weakness. The awkwardness, when using this system, of such a

holding as 3, 5, 7, is self-apparent.



All these plans or fads had their innings in Whist, where important

information had to be conveyed by the discard, but in Auction, they are

about as necessary as pitching a curve to a blind batsman.



The plain, simple, old-fashioned discard from weakness is all that is

used or required, provided it be understood that a signal in the

discard means a reversal of its ordinary inference. A signal by discard

(that is, for example, discarding first a 5, followed by a 2) is

generally a showing of strength in that suit, and a most pronounced

suggestion, if not an imperative command, that it be led at the first

opportunity. The only case in which it is not an evidence of strength

is when it shows a desire to ruff. The signal in the discard is most

serviceable when the Declarer is playing a long suit, and the partner

is in doubt which of the two remaining suits to keep guarded. In this

case it may not be a command to lead, but merely a wireless message

saying, "I have this suit stopped; you take care of the other."



A signal in a discard to show strength is only necessary when it is not

advisable to discard once from each of the other suits, which by

inference gives the same information, yet does not shorten the strong

suit.



Strength information can often be transmitted by the weakness discard,

just as quickly and more simply than by the now generally abandoned

strength discard. For example, the discard of the lowest card shows

weakness and negatives all possibility of a strength signal, but if the

first discard be as high as a 7 or 8, and the partner can read, from

the general composition of his hand and the Dummy, that the discarder

must hold a lower card in that suit, he gets the information at once.



Regardless of showing his partner strength or weakness, the player has

ample opportunity to give evidence of skill in discarding. Too much

information should never be given to the Declarer when he is in the

lead and controls the situation. There are many hands in which it

becomes obvious that all the adversaries of the Declarer can hope to

accomplish is the saving of a slam, or the taking of one more trick.

The question is not what to tell the partner to lead when he gets in,

but how to win a single trick. In such a case, a bluff discard, i.e.,

showing strength where it does not exist, is sometimes effective,

although a keen Declarer is not apt to be easily deceived by any ruse

so transparent. One thing to remember under such circumstances,

however, is not to help the Declarer by showing weakness, so that he

will know which way to finesse. In No-trumps or with the Trumps

exhausted, never discard a singleton, or too many cards of a weak suit.



When a suit has been declared, it is unnecessary, by informatory

discarding, to repeat the announcement of strength. This principle,

just as is the case with other systems of play, is predicated upon the

ability of the partner to remember the bids. If, however, he be unable

to do so, information by discard will obviously be sowing seed on

barren ground, and should be withheld, as the Declarer is the only one

who will reap any benefit.





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