In bridge, a Vinje signal is a trump echo by a defender to relay his hand pattern to partner. Playing high-low in trumps shows a hand with exactly one odd
-numbered suit. Conversely, playing low-high shows a hand with one even
Vinje signals "work" because all bridge hands have one of the above distributions.
Sample hand patterns with one even-numbered suit:
Sample hand patterns with one odd-numbered suit:
Note that Vinje signals are incompatible with the standard trump echo
that shows count in the trump suit.
The following deal illustrates the potential utility of Vinje signals.
| ||Dummy (North)|| |
Against South's 4
contract, you lead a heart to partner's queen and declarer's ace. Declarer now pulls trumps with the Q
partner following with the 5
At trick 4, South leads the 4.
Should you take your ace or duck?
East's Vinje signal showed exactly one even-numbered suit. That suit looks like spades. It's hard to imagine South jumping to 4
with AKxxxx or less. So if partner started with two spades, then he must have an odd number of cards in the remaining suits.
Partner must hold 5 hearts for his opening bid, but cannot possibly hold 7. (Declarer would have been void at the first trick.) Thus partner's major suit distribution looks to be 2-5.
The question now is partner's minor suit distribution. He must hold an odd number of cards in diamonds and clubs. Does he have 5-1 or 3-3 shape?
Well, partner can't hold 5 clubs, since you and dummy hold 9 combined clubs. Conversely, if he holds 5 diamonds, then declarer's shape is 7-2-1-3. In that case it would seem immaterial whether you take your A
now or later.
The pivotal case, though, is if partner is 3-3 in the minors. In that scenario, declarer is 7-2-3-1 and you must grab your A
now. The full deal:
| ||North|| |
Declarer could have tried harder by immediately leading a club at trick 2 and hoping (praying) to enter dummy with the Q
later. But such is not always the caliber of play encountered.
If you managed to reach the right conclusion on this hand without suffering a slow play penalty or brain aneurysm, congratulations. You may safely add Vinje signals to your convention card.
Vinje signals are named for their inventor, Danish player Helge Vinje.