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   Krzysztof Martens

                       COMPLEX COUNT II: A SUBTLE OPENING LEAD

 

 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

 

 At the first trick, if we happen to decide on a trump lead, we can give partner information about the shape of the rest of our hand.

 

NS non-vulnerable

W         N           E          S  

                         1        X                                                         

1        pass      2       pass

4        pass…

 

1 = natural, forcing

 

Variation A) 

 

 

 

 

 

K 9 6

A Q 10 9

K 5

J 7 6 4

 

A Q 8

8 7 5

A Q 6 3

Q 10 9 

 

 

Lead:  2.

 

Declarer overtakes the heart in dummy with the jack of hearts and plays the second red jack, the J.

 

Leading a singleton trump isn’t recommended.

 

Thanks to complex count (in the trump suit), you already know at trick one that partner has an even-suit oriented hand.  North follows to the diamond trick with the 8, showing an odd number.

 

Plan the defense 

 

You can recreate West’s hand.

 

? x x

K J x x

J 10 9 x

AK

 

Why doesn’t declarer’s shape look more like this?

x

K J x x

J 10 9 x

A K x x

 

As a result of analyzing partner’s lead, if he had had

x x x x x x

x x 

x x x

x x

he would have had a more attractive lead in the club suit. 

 

It’s obviously time to lead a spade from the ace and queen.  There’s no reason to wait.  Why?

 

The full hand: 

 

 

J 7 5 4

6 2 

8 7 2

8 5 3 2  

 

10 3 2

K J 4 3

J 10 9 4

A K

K 9 6

A Q 10 9

K 5

J 7 6 4

 

A Q 8

8 7 5

A Q 6 3

Q 10 9 

 

  

Let’s follow the likely play of the next few tricks.

 

After winning the queen of diamonds we get out passively with a heart.  West cashes the ace and king of clubs and gets out with a diamond.  Again you get out with a heart.  A club is ruffed and on two good diamonds declarer pitches two spades from dummy.

 

Variation B)

 

 

J 7 5 4 2

6 2 

8 7 2

8 5 3   

 

10 3

K J 4 3

J 10 9 4

A K 2

K 9 6

A Q 10 9

K 5

J 7 6 4

 

A Q 8

8 7 5

A Q 6 3

Q 10 9

 

 

Lead:  6.

 

Declarer overtakes the heart in dummy with the jack of hearts and plays the second red jack, the J.

 

Leading a singleton trump isn’t recommended.

 

Thanks to complex count (in the trump suit), you already know at trick one that partner has an odd-suit oriented hand.  Note, that the 6 is the highest missing spot card, from looking at your hand and dummy.  North follows to the diamond trick with the 8, showing an odd number.

 

You can recreate West’s hand.

x x

K J x x

J 10 9 x

A K x

 

You play a heart and wait for the two tricks coming to you in the black suits.

 

DOUBT

 

Complex count shouldn’t be used when one defender who has no high cards has already managed to give count in a suit.  In this situation we give substitute count.  It is more useful.  Why?

  

NS vulnerable

W         N           E          S                                                            

            1        pass      pass

X          XX         3       3

3NT     pass …

 

 

K 8 2

A K J 9 8

A K 3

10 6

 

 

 

J 9 6

6  

Q J 10 9 8 4 2   

8 2    

 

Your lead:  A.

 

South plays the 3 (even count), West plays the 2.

 

You decide to cash the ace and king of diamonds.  On the second diamond trick declarer pitches the queen of spades. 

 

 Plan the defense.

 

Variation A) 

 

K 8 2

A K J 9 8

A K 3

10 6

 

A Q 7

Q 10 2

6

A K Q J 9 7

   

J 9 6

6  

Q J 10 9 8 4 2   

8 2    

 

10 5 4 3 

7 5 4 3  

7 5   

5 4 3

 

 

In this case you should put declarer in his hand with a heart.

 

According to the basic agreement when South doesn’t have anything in his hand, he is obligated to give complex count in the diamond suit.

 

Partner plays the 5 and the 7, showing an even-suit oriented hand.

 

You know partner’s count in the red suits – even.

 

The fact that one of partner’s black suits is odd you know without this genius convention.

 

As it happens you need to add the following additional agreement:

 

Complex count shouldn’t be used when one defender who doesn’t have anything in his hand has already managed to give count in a suit.

 

In this situation substitute count should be given.  It is more useful.

 

In which suit is it applied?

 

Most often the choice of the key suit on the hand won’t be the result of a specific agreement, but from the defenders’ understanding of the situation.

 

This requires a thorough discussion between the partners, a lot of bridge knowledge and analytical abilities.

 

In this case the agreement is applied that substitute count is given to the shorter of the two remaining suits in dummy.  The doubleton in the dummy is the club suit.

  

By playing to the diamond suit with the 7 and the 5 South shows an odd number of cards in clubs.  We can work out declarer’s shape.

 

A Q x

Q x x

6

A K Q Jx x

 

It’s safe to give declarer a heart trick.  At trick thirteen we’ll get the setting trick with the king of spades.

 

Lazily playing the 10 will let declarer make ten tricks.

We have to realize that even if partner happens to have a higher club spot card than the 8 it’s not possible to set the contract two.  After cashing the clubs, we won’t be able to avoid being endplayed.

 

Variation B)  

 

K 8 2

A K J 9 8

A K 3

10 6

 

A Q

Q 10 2

6

A K Q J 9 7 5

J 9 6

6  

Q J 10 9 8 4 2   

8 2    

 

10 7 5 4 3 

7 5 4 3  

7 5   

4 3

 

 

Your lead:  A.

 

South plays the 3 (even count), West plays the 2.

 

You decide to cash the ace and king of diamonds.  On the second diamond trick declarer pitches the queen of spades.  Partner follows to the diamonds with the 5 and the 7.  South is showing an even number of clubs.

 

 We can recreate West’s hand.

 

A Q

Q x x

x

A K Q J x x x

 

Now, we can calmly get out of our hand with a spade.