Do not lose track of your losers
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.