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Posted on Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Bridge column, October 10: Watch trumps and count spades

By Philip Adler

In yesterday's deal, declarer had to try to get a complete count so that he could work out how to play the heart suit. Luckily, it is only rarely that you need to track three suits to work out the fourth. Normally, worrying about trumps and perhaps one other suit suffices. But if you find it tough, count all day long. Every time you go up or down stairs, count them. When walking, count your paces. When you are a passenger in a car, count pedestrians, or white cars, or trees, or whatever. If you are used to counting away from the bridge table, doing it at the table will not be so difficult.

What does South need to count here? West leads the club king against South's contract of four hearts.

South's two-heart rebid guaranteed at least a six-card suit. With only five hearts, he would have shown a second suit, rebid one no-trump, or raised spades.

South has four losers (two diamonds and two clubs) and nine winners (two spades, six hearts and one club). He must establish dummy's spade suit, which means watching that suit and trumps.

The safest line is this: Win the first trick with the club ace, play a heart to dummy's eight, cash the ace-king of spades, and ruff a spade high in hand. Did both opponents follow throughout? If so, draw two more rounds of trumps ending in the dummy and run the spades for an overtrick. Here, though, West discards on the third spade. Now South plays a heart to dummy's nine, ruffs another spade in hand, returns to dummy with a trump to the ace, and cashes the spade six for 10 tricks: three spades, six hearts and one club.

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