THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
DON’T RELY ON ODDS; COUNT YOUR TRICKS
Augusta Jane Evans, a Southern author who died in 1909, said, “Life does not count by years. Some suffer a lifetime in a day, and so grow old between the rising and the setting of the sun.”
A bridge deal does not take a year, but misplaying one can remain in the memory for a lifetime.
The most important aspect of reducing errors is counting; the more counting you do, the better.
In today’s deal, it is winners that are important. How should South plan the play in four hearts after West leads a low spade?
North responded with the Jacoby Forcing Raise, guaranteeing at least four-card heart support and game-going values or more. South’s three-no-trump rebid showed some extra values: a good 14 to a so-so 16 high-card points and denial of a singleton or void.
If South played the contract without thought, he would probably take the spade finesse, win East’s diamond-king shift, draw trumps, and try the club finesse. But when that lost and East cashed two diamond tricks to defeat the contract, declarer would probably mutter that he was unlucky.
But now go back to trick one and force South to refrain from playing dummy’s card until after he has checked losers and winners.
He should see four potential losers: one spade, two diamonds and one club. But he also has 10 winners: one spade, six hearts, one diamond and two clubs. So, he should take the first trick with dummy’s spade ace, draw trumps and try the club finesse. Yes, it loses, but declarer has 10 tricks.