Lavinthal Discards in Bridge

Some partnerships agree in advance to assign special meaning to the first discard. Lavinthal discards are used on defender’s first discard. A high card is shows preference for the higher ranking of the two outstanding suits, whereas a low ranked card shows preference for the other lower ranked suit.

What’s the Lavinthal Discard System ?

Lavinthal Discard System

With this agreement, the first discard you make shows your suit preference.
You do not like the suit led and you do not like the discarded suit.
Your signal tells partner which of the two outstanding suits you prefer.
A high card signals your interest in the higher ranking of the remaining suits – a low card for the lower ranking suit. This is known as Lavinthal in the US, or as McKenney in the UK.

Disadvantages of Lavinthal

The potential disadvantage of this method is that you always have to give preference for one suit or other, and you may not want any suit in particular. Partner has to intuit from cards in their hand, in dummy and already played if your signal is legitimate.