Cohen Suit Preference – The Gee Chronicles
Feb 192003

N/S Vul
Dealer: South
Lead: S7

S 7 5 3
H K 2
D 10 9 8 7 6 3
C 6 3
S K J 10 6 4
H 6 4
D J 4
C A 8 7 4
[W - E] LorNic
S A Q 8
H A 10 7 3
C K Q J 10 9
S 9 2
H Q J 9 8 5
D A K 5 2
C 5 2

3 S


2 S
4 C
5 D


3 C
6 S

2 H
3 D
4 S


The Gee hand that fails to provide a useful lesson is rare. Every so often, however, a Gee hand teaches so many lessons, on so many levels, that there is nothing to do but — well, to publish it, so all the world can profit.

Today finds Gee yoked again to one of his favorite partners, junior wizard Josh Donn. The auction is a marvel. Gee’s 2H shows a subopener with five hearts and an unspecified four-card minor. (Apt pupils will note that this makes North the captain.) Josh figures East/West are cold for at least a spade game, and possibly a slam, and tries a 2S psyche.

Even at the vulnerability N/S don’t figure to get hurt too badly in 4D, so when Josh hears Gee bid diamonds he figures he can go to town. First he psyches 3NT over West’s 3S, and then runs to 4C when doubled, intending to run to 4D after that is doubled. Naturally East doubles again, and the maestro, forgetting who is captain, steps in with 4S! After all, his partner has shown a monster, and he does have 2 in support. When this is doubled Josh is forced to run to 5D, which goes for 800 against 450. East, probably unwisely, spurns the sure profit and takes a shot at 6S. It would be cold if West had a heart stiff and three diamonds instead of two of each, or on any lead but a heart.

Josh of course leads the heart king, and declarer wins the ace and leads the diamond queen off the board. Gee wins the king as North follows with the 3.

Well let’s see. If North has the club ace it won’t disappear. West must have at least five spades for his 3S bid. If he has the club ace also then he has ten black suit tricks, the heart ace and a diamond ruff for twelve. The STCP™ will reliably cash the setting trick.

Not the maestro: he shifts to a club! This would be the winning play if declarer were 5-1-1-6, provided one ignores the fact that in this case declarer would draw trump and claim. East wins the ace, which Josh unluckily fails to ruff, ruffs a diamond, plays a round of trump and claims when both defenders follow.

“That three of diamonds fooled me,” says Gee after the hand. “Any middle diamond and I continue hearts.” In Cohen suit preference, you see, your spot card is supposed to show your partner what he holds.

  2 Responses to “Cohen Suit Preference”


    One might also wonder whether north would have led a low card rather than king from Kxx if he had a void on the side and wanted a ruff…well, I suppose one doesn’t wonder for too long.


    Note Gee’s expert application of suit preference in the bidding: his partner bid spades before clubs, therefore Gee, using his experience and expert judgment to deduce that nine-deuce dubby is far preferable to five-deuce dubby, corrected to the original suit! Such subtle examples of expert preference should not go unlauded.

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