Smith Echo is a defensive signaling method (usually used only against notrump) and quite popular amongst experts.
Playing hi-lo in the first suit declarer plays says nothing about that suit. It sends a message about the suit the defense has led at trick one. Hi-lo means "I like the opening lead suit." Lo-hi means "I don't like it." This signal is used by both defenders and requires lots of judgment and inference. If count is important (for example, a long entryless suit is in dummy), then that overrides the Smith signal.
The opening leader has KJ976 and 82.
He leads a low spade and dummy has xxx. Third hand plays the Q (yeah!) and declarer wins the ace.
Declarer plays diamonds. The opening leader plays the 8 to say: "I like spades."
Example 2:The opening leader has 108762, 82 and AQ10x.He leads a low spade and dummy has Jxx and xxx. Third hand plays the K and declarer wins the ace.Declarer plays diamonds. The opening leader plays the 2 to say: "I don't like spades; try something else." (Usually, partner can figure out from the context what that "else" means.).
Example 3: Third hand has QJ102. His partner leads a low spade and dummy plays low with xx. The ten forces the ace. Declarer now plays diamonds. With such a great spade holding, 3rd hand plays hi-lo in diamonds to tell partner to persist with spades when he gets in.
Example 4: Third hand has 10 singleton. His partner leads a low spade and dummy plays low with xxx. The ten forces the ace. Declarer now plays diamonds. With a desire to have partner play something other than spades, 3rd hand follows with a low diamond to say: "I don't like spades."
Note: Smith-Echo is used by both defenders one time only. It is used on the first suit declarer plays.
Note: Sometimes, count has to take precedence over Smith Echo. If dummy has, say KQJ10x with no side entry, and declarer plays a low diamond at trick 2, it is crucial to give count. (If declarer leads the A, then count isn't important and a Smith signal is given).
Note: Some pairs play "reverse Smith Echo" -- the opposite of what is described.
Note: Sometimes it is obvious that a player (usually the 3rd-hand player) can't possibly like the suit led (maybe his 3rd hand "high" play was a little one). In that case, hi-lo in declarer's first-played suit is usually suit-preference amongst the remaining 2 suits.
Note: There are many subtle inferences, exceptions, subtleties--experienced partnerships need to work on the details.
Note: Tempo is important. Try to think at trick one about your future signals. Don't take a long time for your Smith signal as this give partner unauthorized information.
Last updated: June 2012