Count­ing points is top pri­or­ity

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - BY PHILLIP ALDER

“’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.

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