Source: The Glasgow Herald – 21 Feb 1968

Counting hands to take the guesswork out of play without much effort.

EVERYONE knows that each player is dealt 13 cards, but how many players when playing a hand make an effort to keep this fact clearly in mind? Counting the hands of the opponents is not difficult, and the little effort required is often very rewarding and guesswork can often be eliminated. The bidding may help to assess the opponents’ distribution, but, lacking this, the fall of the cards on the early rounds may be the key,

The following hand is a good example of how an even chance to a novice can be transformed into a certainty by the experienced player.

Dealer East. None Vul

J 9 8 5
A 5 4
7 3
A 7 6 3

Q 8 7 6 3
J 9 8 4
9 8 5 2
4 3 2 
2
A Q 10 6 5
K Q J 10
A K Q 10 7 6
K J 10 9
K 2
4

East opened the bidding one diamond, but South still managed to reach the reasonable small slam in spades. West led the four of diamonds and East won with the ace and switched to the king of clubs. Many players would try to guess the heart finesse, but this South, won the ace of clubs and ruffed a club with the queen of trumps.

He then played a small trump to dummy and when West showed out he now knew that East had three spades and the bidding’ and play indicated that he also had five diamonds. Another club was ruffed high and dummy re-entered to ruff the fourth club.

When both opponents followed placing East with four clubs declarer was saticfied that East had no more than one heart. The last trump was drawn and South played the king of hearts and followed with the jack to take a confident finesse through’ West.

In a recent league match a count of the opponents’ cards eventually led the declarer to the right way home, although a slight slip by an opponent was of assistance.

Dealer South. All Vul

Q 5
J 7 6 3 2
Q 6 4
A 10 5
K 9 2
K 10 8 5 4
K 10 7 3
8
10 8 6 3
9
8 2
K Q 7 6 3 2
A J 7 4
A Q
A J 9 5
J 9 4
West North East South
1
Pass 2 Pass 2NT
Pass 3NT End

West led the three of diamonds and South won with the nine. South played a further diamond to establish three tricks in that suit and hoping that West might be tempted to attack the weak-looking heart suit in dummy. West won with the king and switched to the eight of clubs and East won with the queen and tabled his singleton nine of hearts. South’s queen lost to West’s king and West returned a heart,tcs South’s. ace, East discarding a club. West was placed with five hearts but declarer had other clues.

Surely a club would have been more attractive than a heart. The reasonable conclusion was that West hadn’t a second club to play. Declarer therefore placed West with five hearts, four diamonds, one club, and therefore only three spades. He accordingly played a small spade to the queen and when this won, he played another spade to the ace and followed with the four of spades, successfully dropping West’s king and establishing the jack of spades.

If West goes up with the king when the spade is played and returns a diamond declarer’s communications are cut but he an still make nine tricks by squeezing East in clubs and, spades.