Bridge column, October 9: The count is a constant scourage
Counting in bridge is like counting away from the table. However, most players do not count as much as they ought -- and could. This type of deal drives most people crazy. How should South plan the play in seven spades after West leads the club king?
North's two-no-trump response promised eight-plus points and a balanced hand. Then, when South showed five or more spades, North made a four-club control-bid (cue-bid) to say that he loved spades. (If North did not like spades, he would have rebid three no-trump. If he had a so-so hand for spades, he would have raised to four spades. Bidding another suit showed an excellent hand for spades.)
South needed to take five spades, four hearts, two diamonds, one club and one diamond ruff on the board. The only likely problem would be getting those heart tricks. To find out the lie of that suit, South played on the other suits first. His sequence of plays was club ace, club ruff, ace-king of spades, diamond to the king, club ruff high, diamond ace, diamond ruff. What had declarer learned?
That West had begun with two spades, seven diamonds, at least three clubs and, therefore, at most one heart. South cashed the heart queen, then played a low heart to his nine, confident it would win. (If East had split his honors, playing the 10 or jack, South would have won, crossed to dummy with his last trump, and taken the heart finesse to get home.)
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