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Posted on Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Bridge column, February 18: Count declarer's apparent winners

By Phillip Alder

Denis Watley, a motivational speaker and writer, said, "The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don't define them, or ever seriously consider them as believable or achievable. Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them."

That sounds like a good description of bridge declarers and defenders. Winners count losers and winners, work out a plan at trick one, and enjoy watching their partners sharing the adventure.

In this deal, South is in four spades. West leads the club king. How should East plan the defense?

North's four-club rebid was a splinter. It showed four-card spade support, game-going values and a singleton (or void) in clubs.

East should ask himself where four tricks will come from -- the defensive target.

Clearly, there is no chance in trumps. Even if South does not have the king, the finesse is winning. (It is unrealistic to think that declarer cannot get to his hand. If he has six points, he must have the spade king or diamond ace, since he has at most one point in hearts and clubs combined.)

Similarly, there is no heart trick coming and only one club. So the defenders must take three diamond tricks. And who should be leading the suit?

Clearly East. He should overtake West's club king with his ace and shift to the diamond queen. Here, that works perfectly.

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