Source:
1. Do one thing at a time.
1. Count points or distribution—don’t do both at once.
2. Count initial pattern or remaining suit length, don’t do both at once.
3. Finish one task before starting the next. E.g., suppose you count the opener’s distribution, before switching to placing HCP, count partner’s distribution too.
1. For example, you hold 7 HCP. Dummy tables with 9 HCP. You can see 16 HCP—that is fact.
2. If opener’s bidding showed 12–14, that is a hypothesis. Openers sometimes lie and hold 11 or 15.
3. Declarer ruffs the second round of a suit. The singleton is a fact. As a defender, you can now identify the original layout of that suit with certainty.
4. Declarer bid clubs late in the auction. Declarer may have 4, but may not. The assumption he holds 4 is a hypothesis, not a fact

2. Minimize the math. For example: (1NT) – P – (3NT) – All Pass.

You hold 7 HCP. Dummy tables 10, for 17 visible HCP. Assume the 1NT opening promised 15–17. One counting option:

1. add 17 to 15 for 32 known points.
2. 40–32 = 8 points (partner’s maximum)
3. 8–2 = 6 points (partner’s minimum)

A better option produces less math and less chance for mental errors.

1. add 17 to 16 (middle of the range) for 33 known points.
2. 40–33 = 7 points
3. Partner holds 7 points +/- 1

3. After counting the points of one unseen hand, pick the weaker of the two unseen hands, then mentally convert their points to high honor.

1. I.e., 7 HCP is equal to two high honors, Ace and king, two kings and a jack, etc.
2. Eliminate suits where between your hand, dummy’s hand and any cards already shown, partner can not hold a high honor in the suit,
3. Now identify which specific high honors are possible. Frequently, there are few options.
4. When you can place honors in the weak hand, mentally note that the remaining honors are in the other hand.