The Smith Echo is a delayed attitude signal employed against no-trump contracts. It is used after partner makes an opening lead and declarer gains the lead. When following suit to declarer's lead, a high card shows encouragement for the suit partner led, whereas a low card is discouraging.


Example

A classic example of the Smith Echo looks something like this:

Dummy
T876
53
WestAK74East
95QJ7QJ432
AT872QJ4
QT2Declarer963
K63SAK42
HK96
DJ85
CAT985


South arrives in 3NT and West leads the H7 (fourth-best leads). East plays the jack and South the king. At this point, West does not know who holds the HQ.

South now leads a diamond to dummy's DA. East should follow suit with the D9, a Smith Echo indicating encouragement for hearts. South next takes the losing club finesse to West's CK. Based on his partner's signal, West can hope to underlead his hearts to East's HQ and run the heart suit.

Compare this to the following layout in which the hands are changed ever so slightly:

Dummy
T876
53
WestAK74East
95QJ7KQ432
AT872J94
QT2Declarer963
K63SAJ42
HKQ6
DJ85
CAT985


Again West leads the H7 against South's 3NT. East plays the jack and South wins his king.

South now leads a diamond to dummy's DA. This time, East should play the D3, a Smith Echo discouraging hearts. When South now takes the losing club finesse, West should know better than to underlead his hearts and provide declarer his 9th trick.


Reverse Smith Echo

Some players choose to invert the meanings of the high and low cards so that a high card is discouraging, while a low card is encouraging.


Other Considerations

The Smith Echo is recommended for experienced partnerships only. When playing Smith, a defender sometimes lacks the correct spot card to signal properly. This may cause a hesitation that gets declarer calling for the director.

At other times, a count signal is more useful instead of a Smith Echo. Partnerships should discuss these situations in advance.


Origins

The Smith Echo was created by British player I.G. Smith.

See also

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