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   Krzysztof Martens

 COMPLEX COUNT I

 

 Krzysztof is a bridge player, a bridge coach and journalist.

 

 He has his own web page: Bridge University,  where you can get his books

 

http://www.martensuniversity.com

 

Complex count is based on a simple observation:

 

 A) each player’s hand is made up of one even suit and three odd suits or

 

 B) one odd suit and three even suits.

 

As a result of the fact that complex count precludes giving a suit preference signal, it is used only by the defender who doesn’t have any other information to convey.

 

Simply put, a very weak hand has a responsibility to show complex count.

 

The suit in which complex count is given is either the trump suit or declarer’s first attack suit.

 

Playing cards in the order low-high shows a hand with even suits, meaning 3 evens and one odd.

 

Playing cards in the order high-low shows a hand with odd suits, meaning 3 odds and one even.

 

One of the great advantages of giving complex count is camouflage.

 

The defender who has all the strength knows that his partner is weak and reads the signal as complex count. From declarer’s point of view the signal is suit preference just like in 95% of all the other hands where a suit preference signal takes priority over showing complex count.

 

NOTE:

 

Complex count shouldn’t be used when a player who has a very weak hand has already given count in a suit.  In this situation the weak hand’s next signal is substitute count.  This is more useful. 

 

 EXCEPTIONAL INFORMATION

 

Knowing that partner’s hand is even-suit oriented or odd-suit oriented allows for a depth of analysis that is unattainable for pairs who use standard count signals.

 

W        N            E          S                                                            

1NT     pass       2        pass

2      pass       3        pass               

pass…

 

1NT = 14-16 PC

2 = denies four spades

   

 

 

A 9 4   

Q 8 6 3

Q J 2    

4 3 2

 

K Q 3  

A 7 5

K 10 4

Q 8 7 6

 

 

Lead:  J.

Declarer wins the ace of clubs and plays the jack of hearts.  You duck the jack and win the next round of hearts with the ace, partner playing the 4 and the 2.

 

 Plan the Defense

 

Variation A)

 

You realize that partner doesn’t have any high cards other than the jack of clubs and maybe the jack of spades.  Thus, partner’s play in the heart suit shows a hand that is odd-suit oriented.  (3 odds and 1 even).

Note, that substitute count in this situation wouldn’t make any sense.

You know which suit North has that is even – the trump suit.

The rest of partner’s suits are odd.

You know how many spades North has – 3 (1 and 5 are impossible).

 

a) North has this shape:  3; 2; 3; 5

 

 

10 8 2

4 2

9 8 3 

J 10 9 6 5

 

J 7 6

K J 10 9

A 8 7 5

A K

A 9 4   

Q 8 6 3

Q J 2    

4 3 2

 

K Q 5 3 

A 7 5

K 10 4

Q 8 7 

 

 

There is a danger that declarer will be able to pitch a spade from dummy on the fourth diamond in his hand.  We have to open spades immediately.

 

During a match the required play is clear.  We shift to a small spade. 

 

Why a small spade?  In case partner has the 10 (and the declarer doesn’t work out to insert the jack of spades).

At a pairs tournament we have two options:

 

1) shifting to a small spade – it seems to be a reasonable risk, although it could result in a complete zero.

2) shifting to the queen of spades – we can safely take advantage of the chance that partner has the jack of spades.  We leave open another option that comes at a risk. 

 

Let’s follow declarer’s likely play.  West will probably win the ace of spades, return to hand with a heart and play a diamond to the queen.  Now, it’s time for the defenders to cooperate.

 

1) North plays the 3, which means that we can’t count on him for any help in spades.  We cash the king of spades.

 

2) North plays the 9 and we confidently play a small spade (West will think that we have led from a spade holding of Q10x).

 

b) North has this shape:  3; 2; 5; 3

 

 

10 8 2

4 2

9 8 7 5 3 

J 10 9

 

J 7 6

K J 10 9

A 6

A K 6 5

 

A 9 4   

Q 8 6 3

Q J 2    

4 3 2

 

K Q 5 3 

A 7 5

K 10 4

Q 8 7  

 

 

There is an identical theme to the hand.

We have to open spades at once, because of the risk of a spade pitch on the fourth club.

         

Variation B)

 

W          N           E          S                                                            

1NT      pass       2        pass

2       pass       3        pass               

pass…

 

1NT = 14-16 PC

2 = denies four spades

 

 

  

A 9 4   

Q 8 6 3

Q J 2    

4 3 2

 

K Q 5 3 

A 7 5

K 10 4

Q 8 7 

 

 

Lead:  J

 

Declarer wins the ace of clubs and plays the jack of hearts.  You duck the jack and win the next round of hearts with the ace, partner playing the 2 and the 4.

 

 Plan the defense

 

Partner’s play in the heart suit shows a hand that is even-suit oriented.  (3 evens and 1 odd).

You know of one even suit in North’s hand – the trump suit.

 

a)     North’s odd suit is spades.  North’s shape is:  3; 2; 4; 4.

  

 

10 8 2

4 2

9 8 7 5  

J 10 9 5

 

J 7 6

K J 10 9

A 6 3

A K 6 

 

A 9 4   

Q 8 6 3

Q J 2    

4 3 2

 

K Q 5 3 

A 7 5

K 10 4

Q 8 7 

 

 

We should forget about making an active or attacking lead.

 

We return the queen of clubs, and start the battle for down one.

 

b)    North’s odd suit is diamonds.  North has the shape:  4; 2; 3; 4.

 

  

 

10 8 6 2

4 2

9 8 7   

J 10 9 5

 

J 7

K J 10 9

A 6 5 3

A K 6 

A 9 4   

Q 8 6 3

Q J 2    

4 3 2

 

K Q 5 3 

A 7 5

K 10 4

Q 8 7 

 

 

We have to continue clubs.  There is a danger of a club pitch in dummy on the fourth diamond. 

 

c) North’s odd suit is clubs.  North has the shape:   4; 2; 4; 3.

 

 

 

10 8 6 2

4 2

9 8 7 5  

J 10 9

 

J 7

K J 10 9

A 6 3

A K 6 5

A 9 4   

Q 8 6 3

Q J 2    

4 3 2

 

K Q 5 3 

A 7 5

K 10 4

Q 8 7 

 

 

We return a club.  Unfortunately, only an original diamond lead would have been the best.

 

Summary

 

Complex count gives an unprecedented piece of information.

 

It is very helpful to the defender who has a lot of high cards in his hand and can’t count on getting any help from his partner.  It enables him to make a precise analysis of the hand and plan his line of defense.

In the cases presented above when partner’s complex count showed an odd-suit oriented hand, it obligated us to open the spade suit immediately.

 

In the other examples when North had an even-suit oriented hand, we had to return a club.  You honestly have to admit, that without this handy little device North would be groping in the dark.

 

I love this game!!!