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, Helge Vinje of Oslo, Norway. An IT specialist by trade, Vinje represented the Academic Bridge Club in Oslo.