Do not lose track of your losers

Cecil Whig - - COMICS & PUZZLES - By Phillip Alder

Robert Or­ben, a co­me­dian who is also a ma­gi­cian and was a speech­writer for Ger­ald R. Ford, said, “There are days when it takes all you’ve got just to keep up with the losers.” That is a good sen­tence for bridge play­ers to re­mem­ber. Es­pe­cially when in a suit con­tract, af­ter the dummy comes down, the de­clarer should pause and count up his po­ten­tial losers. How many should South see in to­day’s deal? He is in four hearts, and West has led the club queen.

Well, let’s count them up. South has one in spades, one in hearts, one in di­a­monds and one in clubs -- one too many.

At this point, it is a good idea to count win­ners. (If an op­po­nent com­plains that you are tak­ing too long, tell him that he has just bro­ken your train of thought and you will have to start all over again!) Here, de­clarer has one spade, four hearts, two di­a­monds and two clubs -- a to­tal of nine. Hmm ... things are grim. What should South do?

North, count­ing three points for the sin­gle­ton, was well worth his sin­gle heart raise. The spade, heart and di­a­mond losers are the­o­ret­i­cally un­avoid­able. De­clarer must elim­i­nate that club loser. Af­ter tak­ing the first trick, he must lead a di­a­mond, prefer­ably a sneaky jack. If West is asleep and plays low, sud­denly South can col­lect an over­trick. But let’s as­sume West wins with his ace and plays another club. De­clarer takes the trick, dis­cards dummy’s last club on the di­a­mond king, and starts to draw trumps. Even­tu­ally, he will ruff his club six on the board to elim­i­nate his loser and to gain a fifth trump trick.

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