The main reason an expert plays this game so well is that he never stops counting. He keeps track of the high-card points and the suit distributions. However, counting isn’t everything South counted today’s deal carefully but still ended with a minus score.

IMPs Dealer South. E/W Vul

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

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

Following North’s forcing spade raise, East wisely kept quiet, he didn’t rate to be able to win the auction, and bidding would only warn South about the distributional nature of East’s hand.

West led the club two.

East won with the ace and returned the seven to his partner’s king. West switched to the heart two. dummy’s queen losing to East’s king After a heart went to dummy’s ace, South drew the missing trump. Now South had to find the diamond queen. Assuming West’s club and heart leads were honest fourth-highest cards, West was known to have started with one spade, four hearts and four clubs. This meant he had four diamonds to his partner’s three. Smiling contentedly to himself, South cashed the diamond ace before finessing dummy’s Jack. However, East produced the queen: one down.

“The odds were with me, partner,” explained South.

“Odds, clods,” commented North sotto voce. He had noticed that If South had only won the third trick with dummy’s heart ace, he couldn’t go down.

After drawing the trump, South exits with his last heart. Whichever opponent wins the trick must either lead a diamond, finding the queen for South or concede a ruff-and-discard.

Phillip Alder
Phillip Alder

Source: ACBL: Phillip Alder is a columnist for The New York Times and a syndicated columnist for 22 years with United Feature Syndicate. His column appears in over 200 papers worldwide. He has also helped to produce the Daily Bulletins at various WBF Championships and is a member of the WBF Youth Committee. Alder is the Associate Editor of The Bridge World magazine.”

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