Counting points is top priority
“’It’s the oldest rule in the book,’ said the King.
“’Then it ought to be Number One,’ said Alice.”
Lewis Carroll wrote that in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” and it ought to be at the beginning of all bridge books. The more counting you do, the better you will play. If you can count only one thing on any given deal, make it highcard points. In a suit contract, it would be great to track trumps too, but points are often more important.
Here is a textbook example. How should South plan the play in three no-trump after West leads a low spade in answer to his partner’s opening bid?
South was not wild about overcalling one no-trump without two solid spade stoppers, but it gave the best description of his hand. A good partner would have held the spade jack.
When you lead partner’s suit and you did not raise, lead low from length, high from shortness (unless you have the ace, when you lead that card; or you have touching honors, when you start with the top toucher).
South has six top tricks: one spade, three hearts, one diamond and one club. He can get the extra tricks by taking a winning finesse in one of the minors — but which one?
Declarer can see 10 points on the board and 17 in his hand. That leaves only 13 for the opponents, but East had enough to open the bidding. The club finesse must have no chance of working, but the diamond finesse is a certainty.
After taking a trick with his spade ace, South should play a club to the ace, then take the diamond finesse three times to make his contract.