Bridge column, October 31: Remember to count from the bidding
What I try to do for my readers is to pass on some of the things I found out from about the age of 15, after doing them now for more years than I can count!
However, at the bridge table one does not have to count that high. There are only 13 cards in each suit and 13 cards in each hand. Yes, there are 40 high-card points, and tracking those is very important, but often you need worry only about the number in one or two hands.
In today's deal, what does East need to count? He is defending against three no-trump after the given auction. West leads a fourth-highest club two. What should East do?
Most defenders sitting East would win the first trick with the club ace and return the club three (lowest of three remaining cards). However, South would win with his king and take the next nine tricks in the red suits.
What does West's lead tell East? That West has four clubs and South has three. What does the bidding tell East about South's hand? That he has five hearts and four diamonds (at least). Along with three clubs, South therefore has only one spade.
So East should cash the spade ace at trick two. When that fells the king, East continues with a low spade to his partner's queen, and another spade through the dummy gives the defenders the first five tricks.
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