Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - by Phillip Alder

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 five-card 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 pre-emp­tive. 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!

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