Lavinthal (aka McKenney) discards are used to indicate suit preference on the first opportunity to discard. A high card indicates preference for the higher of the other two suits, a low card is preference for the lower of the other two suits.
How To Use Lavinthal
Playing standard discards, a player has to discard a card of the suit they want played at the first opportunity. Lavinthal turns this on its head – the suit discarded is discouraged and one of the other two suits is encouraged. The rank of the card played determines whether the discard asks for the higher or lower of the two remaining suits.
Advantages of Lavinthal
There are two main advantages to using Lavinthal compared to standard discards:
For example, if declarer runs a long diamond suit and you want to encourage spades, you could discard either a high club or a high heart. In this scenario, you might drop the ♥8 to indicate you want a spade played.
In another example, declarer is running a long club suit and you want to encourage diamonds. You have the choice of dropping either a low heart or a low spade to make this signal – you choose the ♠2.
Other popular ways of showing suit preference include:
Revolving Lavinthal (Revolving Suit Discards)
Revolving discards are similiar to Lavinthal, except that suits ‘wrap round’ in a circle e.g. Clubs-Diamonds-Hearts-Spades-Clubs-etc. In this system, a higher card asks for the next highest of the two suits, and the low card asks for the next lowest of the two suits.
For example, if declarer runs a long diamond suit and you want to encourage spades, you could discard a low club such as the ♣3. This is because if you follow the circle of suits, spades is the next ‘lowest’ suit. A high club, such as the ♣8 would indicate preference for hearts.
Odd-Even Discards (Roman Discards)
This is another popular discard system for showing suit preference which allows a player to ask for a suit in three ways, using both the rank and whether the card is odd or even to give information:
For example, if declarer is running diamonds and you want a spade, you have the option of discarding either an odd spade, a high even heart, or a high even club.