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   Nov.  15/99

 

JUST BRIDGE...

 

ANYONE CAN COUNT

 

by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish

 

 Many players believe that counting a hand is too difficult, an exercise best left to the experts. We find that concession depressing. Anyone can count to 13, and even the experts start their analysis with this key number. Each hand is composed of 13 cards, If you know that a player has two spades, three hearts, and four diamonds, then you know for certain that he has four clubs. There are 13 cards in every suit. If you can see seven spades in your hand and dummy combined, and one opponent is known to hold four spades, you know for certain that the other opponent holds exactly two spades. Anyone can draw logical conclusions from the evidence; the experts have no monopoly on this important aspect of play and defence.

 Neither side vulnerable East deals

  7 4
K J 10 3
A J 10 8

8 5 3

   
  A Q 6 3
Q 4
K 9 5 3

9 7 5

 

West North East South
    1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
Pass Dble Pass 3
End      

 


Opening Lead:
K

 East overtakes the
K and cashes two more clubs, West discarding the 2 on the third club. East switches to the 10 and you successfully finesse the queen. Although there is more to this deal than simply drawing trumps, it is not too early to form a picture of the entire layout.

 Let's count, keeping the number 13 in mind. West, who responded 1
will have four; East, who raised to 2, must have three. With four spades and four hearts, West would have responded 1; if East had more than four hearts, he would have opened 1. Thus, West has three hearts, East four. West has shown two clubs, East five. Put it together and you can be certain that East's shape is precisely 3-4-1-5, West's precisely 4-3-4-2. What now?

 With trumps four-one, you must force out the
A before drawing all the trumps (else East can cash two more clubs).

 

 The correct play, which runs the small risk of losing to the singleton Q, is to play a low trump to dummy's ten before attacking hearts. If East wins the second heart and plays a third, ruff with the king, then run the 9, repeat the finesse, and claim. If East plays a fourth club, ruff in hand.

 A footnote: with a hand worth only bid it is common to bypass a four- or five-card diamond suit to introduce a major suit.

 

 On this deal, however, you could come to the right conclusions about the distribution without delving into the opponents' style.

 

The four hands were:

  7 4
K J 10 3
A J 10 8

8 5 3

J 8 5 2
8 5 2
Q 6 4 2

K 4

K 10 9
A 9 7 6
7

A Q J 6 2

  A Q 6 3
Q 4
K 9 5 3

9 7 5