Defense (or defence, in Canada) is half the game and the hardest part too.  It requires that both partners  understand each other really well. Having some good signalling tools is very helpful.

UDCA (upside down count and attitude) has some advantages over other methods (standard, odd-even, Lavinthal, etc).  Principally, it avoids wasting a high card to signal positive attitude in a suit and it reduces the possibility of false carding by declarer.

Here’s an example from bridgebum:

A defender might like to show count or attitude in a suit like KT82, but a standard count or attitude signal here would require the 8. This could be a valuable card. Theoretically, it’s more practical to discard a high spot card from a lousy holding like 872.

And another one from Marilyn Hemenway:

You hold: xxx 109x AQx xxx. Dummy is KQ9x xxx Kxx Axx. The contract is 4. Partner leads the King (which in your methods asks for upside down count), you play the 10[showing odd (3 hearts). Partner continues with the Ace on which you play the 9 [has to be your highest remaining card] which is suit preference suggesting a switch to the higher ranking suit….in this case diamonds. Partner dutifully switches to a small diamond and you get to cash two diamond tricks to defeat the contract one trick.

When not to signal?

The general principle is to not signal if doing so will help declarer more than the defenders.

Case 1: You judge that you hold virtually all of the defensive cards, that partner will very probably never gain the lead. Do not signal. Partner, on the other hand, knowing the situation, should consider signalling honestly.

Case 2: Signalling against a slam is very dangerous. Make declarer work as hard as possible. Don’t give him any indications.

So is UDCA worth learning?

Many pairs do fine with standard signals. UDCA gives a slight edge (but not if partners forget they are doing it).  I also think learning new and useful conventions helps sharpen the mind, so enough reasons for me to learn it. I just need to convince my partners to try it!


The primary use of Lebensohl is in countering interference over a 1NT bid, but it can also be used after opponents’ weak-two bids and in responding to a reverse by partner.
Lebensohl is a difficult convention to master. As Larry Cohen puts it, “it takes study, practice, and a partner on the same page“.Several bridge websites provide explanations on Lebensohl, including among others:


XYZ is new minor forcing for the 21st century!

New minor forcing (NMF) allows partner to ensure opener keeps on bidding after three successive bids ending in 1NT.

XYZ, on the other hand, applies after a sequence of any three 1-level bid ( 1X, 1Y,1 Z, e.g. 1, 1, 1).

2 by responder as an artificial relay. Opener must bid 2.

2 by responder as an artificial bid, saying that the partnership is going to at least game.
Other bids by responder are natural and NOT Forcing; 2-level suit bids are typically weak*, 2NT and 3-level bids are invitational.

* 2 is weak unless it is a reverse
* 2 is weak unless it is a reverse

Responder’s 2 relay is used to either place the contract in 2, or to be followed by an invitational bid.

For more details, including possible variations and tweaks, check out this article by Larry Cohen.

Or have a look at the very comprehensive Wikipedia XYZ article.



Bernard Marcoux, “The Most Beautiful Game” is one of my favourite bridge bloggers. He also presents some interesting variations which can make XYZ even more powerful.

Here’s one intriguing example from many in his exhaustive article:

The 2 relay initiates invitational sequences, but we can use it also for this type of hand:

In standard methods, you have probably only one bid: 4NT quantitative. But why play 4NT when you can play 3NT?

Opener Responder
1 1
1NT 2
2 3NT = partner, I have 19 pts, an invitational hand for slam

Opener will decide.