Always count losers and winners
Alan Stein, a basketball coach and fitness trainer, said, “A winner works hard to achieve success. A loser works hard to find a shortcut.”
At the bridge table, a winner works hard to count winners and losers. In most trump-suit contracts, counting losers is best; on others, tallying winners makes it easier to see the right line; but on all deals, it is optimum to do both. In this deal, how many losers and winners does South have in four hearts? How should he play after West leads the spade king? In the auction, I think North was right to start with a takeout double. Yes, if South does not have a fivecard or longer major, a two-club overcall could work out better, but that aims at a small target. The double is more flexible. East’s jump to three diamonds was preemptive. With at least a limit raise, he would have responded two notrump. (Note that some pairs invert these meanings over a minor, so that if the opening side has the values to try to make three no-trump, the stronger hand, the opener, will be the declarer.) South bid what he hoped he could make.
Declarer could see four losers (two spades and two diamonds) and nine winners (one spade, seven hearts and one club). His only chance was to establish dummy’s club suit so that it would provide a 10th trick. However, he needed all three of dummy’s trumps as entries. The play went: spade ace, club ace, club ruff, heart to dummy’s eight, club ruff high, trump to dummy, club ruff, heart to the king, cash the club jack (discarding a spade or a diamond), claim. Success!