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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

COUNT TO SUCCESS

It’s not easy and there are some deals where you either have to make assumptions in order to try and count a defender’s hand…i.e. working out where missing honour cards are more likely to be. Sometimes, when they have not bid, you have no idea.

However, when they have bid, they have opened their hand out to you. It can be like being shown their hand. Take a look:

                                                                                                                                     eyes open.png

South Deals
None Vul
K 7
10 8 7 5 2
A 8
Q 10 9 5
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
A Q 10 9
A Q 3
K 3
J 8 7 2
West North East South
      1 
2  3  3  3 
Pass 4  All pass  

 (2Diamond-small was a weak jump overcall.)

West leads the Diamond-smallQ. Your first thoughts, apart from thanking your partner for their dummy, are why you are not in 4Heart-small, maybe even 3NT…25 high card points. The opposition have rather bullied you into your 4 – 4 fit at the four level. If you were to dream of other contracts, it should only be relief that you are not in 5Club-small which would be almost unmakeable. However, those thoughts above are wayward (4Heart-small and 3NT are pretty tough contracts anyway, the former impossible, the latter makeable only by a computer program!) as you should be concentrating on making your contract….two trumps losers and some difficulties in the heart suit. No point in moaning about not being in game if you cannot make your part-score!

What to do? It looks like at some point you will have to lead hearts from dummy. So, win the Diamond-smallK in hand and play a trump. East wins with the king and plays ace and a third trump (West had a small doubleton.). It would be good to see the Spade-smallJ fall in 3 rounds, though you can ruff the fourth spade in dummy if necessary. It was, with surprisingly, West having 4 spades headed by the jack.

What now? Our declarer played a heart to the queen….and ended one down. Was South unlucky? No way!

South Deals
None Vul
K 7
10 8 7 5 2
A 8
Q 10 9 5
J 5 4 2
K
Q J 7 6 5 4
6 4
 
N
W   E
S
 
8 6 3
J 9 6 4
10 9 2
A K 3
 
A Q 10 9
A Q 3
K 3
J 8 7 2
West North East South
      1 
2  3  3  3 
Pass 4  All pass  

 

No counting! Let’s do the maths. West made a weak jump overcall. While some players might try the occasional 5 card weak jump (why?!), West should have 6 diamonds, sometimes 7, and has already owned up to four spades and two clubs.

Take the normal number of cards you have just added from 13 and West can have at most one heart. So, when you lead Heart-small10 (a good card to leadoff dummy) and East plays low (East should be fearful of what might be coming and hopes South might play Heart-smallQ), either play the ace…or if you want to show off, the 3 and claim 10 tricks…11 if East covered with the jack and you played the ace. If you led a low heart from dummy, play the ace or the three from your hand…never the queen.

Had East taken out your second entry to dummy (Diamond-smallA) when in with a high club, it would be a wise precaution to cash Heart-smallA first before ruffing the fourth spade. If East holds the Heart-smallK, you will always make 10 tricks. The only danger would be the actual lay-out above. Cashing the ace first time round can never be worse than taking a heart finesse on the first round but could gain.

Counting the cards, if you can, can bring rewards as the actual play on the above deal demonstrated. It requires some concentration but becomes easier with practice. You can count on that!

Richard Solomon

 

 

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