A tough as­sign­ment for the count­less

The Star Democrat - - COMICS & PUZZLES - By Phillip Alder

English­man Alan Ben­nett wrote, “The bits I most re­mem­ber about my school days are those that took place out­side the class­room, as we were taken on count­less theater vis­its and trips to places of in­ter­est.” Lucky him, and maybe that is what turned him into such a pro­lific play­wright.

Bridge play­ers who count lots will al­ways beat those who count less. How does count­ing help South in this four-spade con­tract? West leads a di­a­mond, and East plays three rounds of the suit.

North’s two-di­a­mond cue-bid showed spade sup­port and at least game-in­vi­ta­tional val­ues. South made a three-club help-suit ga­me­try, and North jumped to game. North’s club hold­ing wasn’t great, but he liked his fourth trump, and the vul­ner­a­ble game bonus was at­trac­tive.

South has three top losers: two di­a­monds and one club. So he must avoid a heart loser.

The player who does not count ruffs the third di­a­mond, draws trumps and drives out the club ace. East takes that trick and ex­its safely with a club. Now de­clarer will play a heart to the ace and a heart to his jack, go­ing down one. A counter notes that East has four or five di­a­monds, three spades and at least three clubs. So, he ei­ther has a bal­anced hand or is short in hearts. If East had the heart queen and a bal­anced hand, he would have had 15 points and opened one no-trump.

South should cash his heart king, then lead the jack and hope East has ei­ther a sin­gle­ton heart queen, or sin­gle­ton or dou­ble­ton 10.

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