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Suit preference How is it?

#1 User is offline   Lesh18 

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Posted 2012-May-02, 14:11

Hey

I have been heavily struggling with suit preference lately, I think I had got it all wrong:

1) Do I give a suit preference when I discard? (When I have run out of the suit led, so I discard a card giving a suit preference. 10 of or 10 essentially meaning the same thing. 'Lead the high ranking suit, normally spades).
Is it like this? Do I give suit preferences only when a declarer or dummy leads, or also when my partner leads?

2) Do I give attitude signals only when my partner leads? Never when a declarer leads? And only on the first or second trick?

PS) I know most of you are really experienced and will tend to answer like 'some people do... depends on your playing style' but note that I am most interested in basics, thus in what really the norm is. I do SAYC (and I do not play count signals at all, so far)

Thanks
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#2 User is online   ArtK78 

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Posted 2012-May-02, 14:24

The answer is: It depends.

It depends upon the entirety of the hand.

If I had to guess, then generally it is right to give attitude signals on most defensive plays, especially early in a hand.

If attitude is known, or if it is clear that count is the important factor in a given situation, then give count.

In situations where suit preference is clearly needed (such as when giving partner a ruff or when a switch is clearly indicated), then you give suit preference.

There are a number of conventions relating to discarding. One is odd-even first discard. If one adopts odd-even first discard, then, on the first discard of a hand, one plays an odd card in a suit to indicate that one wants that suit played. Alternatively, one can discard an even card in a suit to say that one does not want that suit played. The rank of the even card tends to indicate which of the other two suits one wants played - a high even card indicates the higher ranking of the other two suits, and a low even card indicates that one wants the lower ranking of the other two suits.

Another carding convention is Lavinthal discards. Again, this only applies to the first discard made by a defender during a hand. If one plays Lavinthal discards, the suit of the card played is not wanted. The rank of the card discarded indicates which of the other two suits one wants played (just like an even card playing odd-even first discards).

Some partnerships have agreed to give suit preference when following suit to trump in a trump contract. Even if one has not agreed to do this, one should be aware that the need can arise for giving suit preference when following suit in trump.

The bottom line is that, whatever agreements you may have, deciding when a signal is an attitude signal, a count signal or a suit preference signal is one of the most difficult aspects of defensive play, and one of the most frequent items of disagreement between partners.

By the way, the bidding system that one uses has absolutely nothing to do with how one plays the cards.
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#3 User is offline   kuhchung 

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Posted 2012-May-02, 14:46

View PostLesh18, on 2012-May-02, 14:11, said:

Hey

I have been heavily struggling with suit preference lately, I think I had got it all wrong:

1) Do I give a suit preference when I discard? (When I have run out of the suit led, so I discard a card giving a suit preference. 10 of or 10 essentially meaning the same thing. 'Lead the high ranking suit, normally spades).
Is it like this? Do I give suit preferences only when a declarer or dummy leads, or also when my partner leads?


I recommend playing your first discard as NOT suit preference. If you play standard carding, discard high in a suit you like, or preferably, low in a suit you dislike. It is both simple and effective. If you like spades, you can discard a high spade, or probably better, discard a low diamond.

If you play low encourages, then just do that and reverse what I said.

View PostLesh18, on 2012-May-02, 14:11, said:


2) Do I give attitude signals only when my partner leads? Never when a declarer leads? And only on the first or second trick?



Yes, only give attitude when partner leads. Declarer is usually attacking his strong suits, so giving attitude there isn't really a good idea anyway :) It's standard to give attitude on partner's leads, and count on declarer's leads.

However, to tie it in to question 1 (When do I give suit preference?), sometimes you give suit preference on partner's lead. This is more easily demonstrated with examples.

Let's say the opponents have an auction like 1C 1S; 3C 3S; 4S. Your partner leads a club. Dummy is xxx Kx Kx AKQJxx. Let's say you have four small clubs and a red ace.

It's pretty clear that partner's lead is a singleton. Should you give attitude? No; we all know that your attitude about the club suit is irrelevant. Your count is irrelevant too (even though you don't play it.) What's important is suit preference. You need to tell partner where your ace is, so that he can put you in and get a ruff. In this case, your club play is suit preference. A high club shows interest in hearts, and a low club shows interest in diamonds.



If all of the above was too long/painful/torturous, here is my summary.

1. For your first discard, play in the same way you give attitude.
2. Give attitude on partner's leads unless it's OBVIOUS that your attitude doesn't matter.
2a. If your attitude doesn't matter, NOW it's suit preference.

If you don't play count, then just play random spot cards that you can afford to when declarer leads.
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#4 User is offline   wyman 

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Posted 2012-May-02, 14:51

I'll let others fill in the gory details, but basically the idea is:

You and partner decide which signal is your primary and which is your secondary. For most people, attitude is primary and count is secondary. This makes suit preference (SP) your tertiary signal. Most beginners, novices, and intermediates do not give suit preference at all, in fact.

In this context, if partner leads an ace, I signal high to encourage, low to discourage (since my primary signal is attitude). This is to help partner figure out where your high cards are (and, by implication, where declarer's are).

On subsequent rounds of the suit, when I don't need to play high to win the trick or to cover the card played on my right, and when I am not the one leading the suit, and when I have enough otherwise useless cards to do so, I can give count (high means an even number, low means an odd number). This is to help partner figure out the distribution. Similarly, if declarer leads the suit, it is unlikely that I'm going to encourage partner to lead it as well! So our primary signal in that situation would be count.

When discarding (to answer one of your questions), the primary signal is (usually agreed to be) attitude. So if you don't have any and a is led and you aren't ruffing, the 10 is encouraging in diamonds, and the 2 is discouraging in .

When count and attitude don't apply, you can give suit preference. [Again, caution!! If partner doesn't understand what you're doing, you're probably only helping declarer!]

But let's say you're defending 3N and you have 8765 and you really want partner to shift to a club. Declarer wins partner's heart lead with the ace in dummy (you discourage, of course) and starts running AKQJ from dummy (so all are visible). Partner has no real need to know your diamond count (he'll see it eventually), and certainly you're not going to give attitude in diamonds! So you can play 5, 6, 7, 8 of diamonds as a strong signal for clubs (lowest at each opportunity).

A similar situation where suit preference is often employed is: Partner leads the ace of hearts (presumably from AK) on opening lead vs a suit contract. Dummy has a singleton. With agreement, your card can be suit preference, as it's the most likely piece of info that partner needs. [Here, I'm dodging the fact that other, situation-specific agreements are possible.]

Of course there are a ton of other cases.

Common mistakes include giving the same signal over and over again (for example, continually giving count in a suit, card after card -- you may think that my 5,6,7,8 above is an example of this, but one can make the distinction between "CLUBS!!!", "I kinda like clubs", "I kinda like spades", and "SPADES!!", whereas you can't describe your holding as "moderately an even number" instead of "emphatically an even number" [although I suppose one may describe his holding as "moderately odd" :)] ).

Hope this is good fodder for starters.
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#5 User is offline   Lesh18 

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Posted 2012-May-02, 15:13

Ok, but suit preference signals work:

1) When following suit
2) When discarding (playing another suit since I have run out of the suit led)
3) Or both????
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#6 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2012-May-02, 15:52

As a beginner, I'd strongly recommend you only play suit preference:
1. When giving partner a ruff, indicating side entry for a 2nd ruff. Or lack of entry, if you indicate an "impossible" entry by looks of dummy, so partner will do something sensible and not try for a second ruff by doing something like wrongly underleading an ace.
2. When partner has led a likely stiff (e.g. he leads side suit opps have been bidding, dummy comes down with strong holding), you can indicate where your entry is by high/low for higher or lower of the remaining suits.
3. In notrump, when you are driving out declarer's last stopper, or following suit as declarer's last stopper is being driven out, if you have choice of card then this indicates where your side entry is.
4. some situation like your side has bid and supported spades, partner bangs down the ace, dummy comes down with KQJx. Since you raised, you can't ruff and declarer has a bunch of discards now, so this card can be suit preference.

These are by far the most common situations, if you start looking for suit preference in a zillion other places you are probably making mistakes and making things more complicated than they should be.

When discarding, your first card in a suit is ATTITUDE, by default. There are schemes like "Lavinthal" that also have a suit-preference component, but this is not *standard*.
When following suit as 2nd/4th hand, your signal is COUNT by default (although you don't necessarily signal accurately all the time for count, you try to only do it when partner needs to know more than declarer, usually in a situation where trying to cut communications, otherwise playing somewhat randomly as to not give declarer knowledge of whether to drop jacks/queens or finesse for them). It is possible to play high-low as suit preference when following in the trump suit, but only on hands where a ruff is not possible. If a ruff is possible, high-low shows 3 trumps and the desire to ruff.

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Do I give suit preferences only when a declarer or dummy leads

Almost never. If declarer leads something and partner *ruffs*, or is going to ruff (you have a surprising # of cards in the suit, declarer didn't expect a ruff), then you signal suit preference for side entry as if you are giving the ruff. Otherwise no (except for the "trump suit echo" situation, with no ruff available).

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or also when my partner leads?

Almost always attitude when partner leads. There are a few exceptions but learn them later when you are more advanced.

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2) Do I give attitude signals only when my partner leads? Never when a declarer leads? And only on the first or second trick?

You don't give attitude when following suit to declarer's leads. Generally you give attitude when partner leads, or when discarding. You generally do it the first time a suit is played by your side, which could be well after the first couple tricks.

Again, go get Bill Root's "How to Defend a Bridge Hand"!!! All your questions are answered throoughly therein.
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#7 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2012-May-03, 03:12

1. Standard carding is to give attitude on the first discard in a suit. If you choose to make this first discard a suit preference signal then you are playing a method called Lavinthal (aka Mckenny). You would need to agree this with your partner. Some like to play Standard against suit contracts and Lavinthal in NT. It is something to discuss with a regular partner.

2. Yes, it is usually a bad idea to give attitude signals in a suit declarer is leading since it helps them to place the missing honours more than it helps partner. You usually give an attitude signal in a suit partner leads at the earliest opportunity unless attitude is already known. Remember that winning tricks takes precedence over signalling though!
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#8 User is offline   Lesh18 

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Posted 2012-May-03, 04:30

Right, but does suit preferencing method work:

1) When I follow suit
2) WHen I discard (play another suit as I have run out of the suit led)
3) Both?

And also, to 'discard' means to play another suit, right? Or does it mean to play a low card of the same suit as well?
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#9 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2012-May-03, 04:52

View PostLesh18, on 2012-May-03, 04:30, said:

Right, but does suit preferencing method work:

1) When I follow suit
2) WHen I discard (play another suit as I have run out of the suit led)
3) Both?

And also, to 'discard' means to play another suit, right? Or does it mean to play a low card of the same suit as well?

1. When you are following suit that partner led you should usually (at your first opportunity to give a signal) give an attitud3e signal. If declarer is leading the suit your first signal will usually be count.
2. First of all, yes discarding means playing a non-trump card of a different suit to the one led. This is the situation I was referring to in my post. Playing Standard you give an attitude signal for the suit you are playing; playing Lavinthal you give a suit preference signal between the 2 other suits (ignoring declarer's suit/trumps) and Standard signals thereafter.
3. There are other situations you can play suit preference signals in addition to your first discard. It is, for example, common to give a suit preference signal where partner leads dummy's singleton in a suit contract. Similarly you always lead a suit preference card when giving your partner a ruff. Many pairs also play suit preference when following to trumps. You can get quite sophisticated about when one signal applies and when another does. This is not for beginners though. Far better, I think, to learn a simple signalling system well to begin with. The simplest is Attitude - Count - Suit Preference in that order and this is what I would recommend to you for now.
(-: Zel :-)
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#10 User is offline   mgoetze 

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Posted 2012-May-03, 07:30

View PostLesh18, on 2012-May-03, 04:30, said:

Right, but does suit preferencing method work:

1) When I follow suit
2) WHen I discard (play another suit as I have run out of the suit led)
3) Both?


What do you mean by "work"? It is possible to play suit preference signals in either of these situations, but consider that you probably only want to give a limited number of suit preference signals throughout the hand, after all there is generally one suit you prefer and that's all there is to it. Many people play suit preference on their first discard, and a very small minority play suit preference when following to declarer's lead, and there are special situations which have been mentioned in this thread. All of these "work" to some extent or other. But what certainly doesn't work is trying to give a suit preference signal on every single trick.

Quote

And also, to 'discard' means to play another suit, right? Or does it mean to play a low card of the same suit as well?

A "discard" is the play of a card which is neither of the same suit as the first card which was played to the trick, nor a trump.
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#11 User is offline   Lesh18 

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Posted 2012-May-03, 07:37

Right, but if Attitude signals and Suit signals both can be played on 1) Following suit or 2) Discarding, and both suggest a preference for a suit, then where is the point in playing suit signals in the first place, when attitude signals offer the very same information?

Or are Suit signals better for more advanced players and attitude for beginners-intermediates, but both deal with the very same information sending?
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#12 User is offline   mgoetze 

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Posted 2012-May-03, 07:39

View PostLesh18, on 2012-May-03, 07:37, said:

Right, but if Attitude signals and Suit signals both can be played on 1) Following suit or 2) Discarding, and both suggest a preference for a suit, then where is the point in playing suit signals in the first place, when attitude signals offer the very same information?

I suggest you agree one or the other with your partner, play 500 hands, and then try to remember what your question was.
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#13 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2012-May-03, 07:53

View PostLesh18, on 2012-May-03, 07:37, said:

Right, but if Attitude signals and Suit signals both can be played on 1) Following suit or 2) Discarding, and both suggest a preference for a suit, then where is the point in playing suit signals in the first place, when attitude signals offer the very same information?

Or are Suit signals better for more advanced players and attitude for beginners-intermediates, but both deal with the very same information sending?


When following suit an attitude signal say whether we like or dislike the suit being played - it says nothing about the other suits. By contrast a (normal) suit preference signal says which of the other suits we prefer but says nothing about the current one being played. When partner is leading it is usually much more useful for them to know about the current suit.

When discarding the same applies except that you can tailor your signal much more precisely. Playing Lavinthal you have to choose the suit you like best and then choose an appropriate card from one of the other 2 suits to convey the proper message. Sometimes you have to hold onto your cards in a particular suit and thus it is quite helpful to be able to signal with the other.

Playing Standard you can give more grades of signals in as much as you do not have to single out a particular suit to like - you can instead single out a suit to dislike. The downside is that to give a like signal you need to discard a card in the actual suit which, especially in NT, might mean discarding a potential winner. You only have one way of making the signal immediately. Of course if you get to discard 2 cards you can signal dislike in both of the other 2 suits instead. Hopefully you can see that both of these approaches have plusses and minuses and this is why both are played.

Both types of signal (as well as count) are useful for players of all levels. The information they send is not the same at all when following suit. When discarding there is a big overlap in the information being sent but sometimes attitude (Standard) requires 2 cards to send the correct message and sometimes suit preference (Lavinthal) has to give a false message. Neither is really more suitable for advanced players than the other, it is just a matter of which flaws you want to live with.
(-: Zel :-)
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#14 User is offline   Fluffy 

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Posted 2012-May-05, 05:00

View PostLesh18, on 2012-May-03, 04:30, said:

1) When I follow suit


It rarelly happens when you follow, it happens much more often when you lead a suit, for partner to ruff, or for stablishing a suit in NT that opponent has stopped with a stiff honnor now as Stephen pointed out.

The times where it happens following suit are rare, the main one happens in suit contract when partner leads ace or king on a suit that dummy has singleton. Attitude and count in this case become secondary/irrelevant and what partner wants to know is wich suit to switch to.
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#15 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2012-May-05, 10:16

View PostFluffy, on 2012-May-05, 05:00, said:

the main one happens in suit contract when partner leads ace or king on a suit that dummy has singleton. Attitude and count in this case become secondary/irrelevant and what partner wants to know is wich suit to switch to.


And I've posted before, that even this has some controversy (automatic suit pref if dummy stiff). Several of my texts point out example hands where it is necessary to continue the suit to force dummy to ruff to set the hand, and only recommend playing suit preference in this situation when either:
- in the bidding 3rd hand has promised significant length (say 5+ in the suit) and it's readable to play both suit pref with middle for continue/neutral
- dummy's trumps are such that it obvious to both that forcing a ruff cannot accomplish anything
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#16 User is offline   P_Marlowe 

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Posted 2012-May-09, 00:52

View PostLesh18, on 2012-May-03, 07:37, said:

Right, but if Attitude signals and Suit signals both can be played on 1) Following suit or 2) Discarding, and both suggest a preference for a suit, then where is the point in playing suit signals in the first place, when attitude signals offer the very same information?

Or are Suit signals better for more advanced players and attitude for beginners-intermediates, but both deal with the very same information sending?

No. They convey different things.

Attitude showes preference for partners suit.
Suit preference showes preference of my own.

Just a simple example:

Partner is on lead, cotraire to usual, he his lead destroys all of our hope in the suit he attacks.
***** happens, he had to make his decision in the dark.

Now you have the option to ask partner to shift or to say continue.
You may say - continue, by giving a positive signal, if a shift risks destroying another suit.
The defence may survive destroying the all hope in one suit, but usual destroying all hope in two
suits kills the defence completly.

With kind regards
Marlowe

PS: Attitude is by far the more important one.
With kind regards
Uwe Gebhardt (P_Marlowe)
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#17 User is offline   sasioc 

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Posted 2012-May-09, 06:46

View PostLesh18, on 2012-May-03, 07:37, said:

Right, but if Attitude signals and Suit signals both can be played on 1) Following suit or 2) Discarding, and both suggest a preference for a suit, then where is the point in playing suit signals in the first place, when attitude signals offer the very same information?

Or are Suit signals better for more advanced players and attitude for beginners-intermediates, but both deal with the very same information sending?


In essence they show the same thing in that they say "I like xyz suit", but there are differences. Most int+ partnerships will play both signals in different circumstances.

Attitude can be given on partner's lead to say that you want him to keep playing that suit. No one plays suit preference on partner's lead (unless the cards in dummy make it clear that partner is not going to continue that suit and thus that your attitude is irrelevant). One reason that no one plays suit preference on partner's lead without special reason is that you cannot call for the suit that partner has led and might not want him to switch.

From your initial post I am not sure that you have understood why this is because you said that throwing the 10 and the 10 both called for a spade, playing suit preference. This is not the case. When thinking about which is the "high" suit and which is the "low" suit you ignore the trump suit and the suit that you have thrown away. So if (for example) clubs were trumps and you discarded the 10 as a suit preference signal, this would call for a heart. The 10 would indeed call for a spade. If you were following to a spade lead and played the 10 as a suit preference signal, this would call for a heart in exactly the same way - you cannot call for a spade, telling partner to continue.

In terms of your first discard, attitude and suit preference do basically convey the same information and, at beginner level, I would just pick whichever one you find easier to remember and play that. There are some differences but these aren't big enough to worry about as a novice. These differences include that it might be easier to give a suit preference signal than an attitude signal if you can't afford to discard a card from the suit you want partner to lead and that it is a bit more fiddly to give a neutral signal playing suit preference (you might have to call for a suit that you "obviously don't actually want" but at novice level, partner might find it harder to realise that that's what's going on). Essentially, suit preference is slightly better at allowing you to always give the information that you want to but comes at the cost of being a bit more fiddly to play than attitude. Note that, whatever you play, it's usually only your first discard that carries a strong meaning.

It is also possible to play suit preference when following suit to declarer's lead, for example when declarer is drawing trumps.

You say you don't play count yet. If I were you I would try to learn to play count rather than worry about suit preference - it is far more useful imo. Playing count also helps to train you to count hands out, which is an important skill to learn.
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#18 User is offline   jillybean 

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Posted 2012-May-20, 21:47

Here's my notes on suit preference which may or may not be helpful.

It may be useful to note that the first signal you give when partner is on lead is usually attitude.
The signal you give when the opponents are on lead is usually count.
Discards have the same basis at attitude signals, if playing standard signals you would discard a low card if you do not want the suit led, discard a high card if you do want the suit led.

And then there is...

Suit preference signals
Some situations where suit preference signals (as opposed to signals reflected in discards) are usually given are:
 
When opening leader is going to hold the first trick and dummy has a singleton in the suit led – the play of a high card asks for the higher suit, etc.

When partner is giving you a ruff – partner will usually lead a low card to ruff if he wants you to return the lower suit (perhaps to access an entry to give another ruff), and a high card for a higher suit return (always excluding the trump suit).

When partner has a choice of cards to play in a suit with no negative consequences of choosing any one. An example occurs when partner is known to hold all the outstanding cards in that suit, such as after a suit has been ‘set up’ by the defense in a no trump contract. Or when partner is known to hold the only cards left in a non-trump suit while defending a suit contract and can discard one of them (say, while trumps are being drawn) to indicate whether he would prefer a lead of the higher or lower side suit. Of course, in this situation, partner could have discarded in one of those side suits, but there can be situations where this can squeeze the defender’s hand.

When partner is known to hold touching honours in a suit, and leads the lower one to suggest a low suit lead when partner gets in. e.g. Partner wins the Q on the first lead of a suit, and then leads the K rather than the A, indicating an interest in the lower side suit. Of course, declarer may have held off the A on the first lead, so the Q play in itself is not a suit preference indicator.

FWIW, in my experience it is hopless to try to play anything other than standard attitute signals with pickup BBO'ers, and even then it will go wrong. You need a regular, semi regular partnership before mastering signaling.
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