THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
A COUNT SIGNAL MANY WOULD MISS
Mae West said, “It is better to be looked over than overlooked.”
She was no doubt talking about the female of the species, but she could also have had in mind cards played at the bridge table. Experienced defenders transmit information with almost all of the cards they play, especially early in the deal.
In this deal, South is in three no-trump. West leads his fourth-highest spade. How should the play proceed?
Declarer took East’s spade queen with his ace, cashed the diamond king, and continued with the diamond queen. He was hoping the jack would appear, allowing him to run for home. However, when West discarded the heart four at trick three, South had to regroup.
Declarer needed a dummy entry, so had to find West with the heart king. At trick four, South led a low heart.
West won with his king and cashed the spade king: club, spade three, nine. West continued with the spade jack: club, spade five, 10. Suitably deceived, West led another spade. South won with his eight, played a heart to dummy’s queen, and ran the diamonds to collect an overtrick.
“How could I have known?” asked West.
East pointed out that on the second round of spades, he gave “remaining count.” Here, because he had three cards left, he dropped the lowest one. If instead he had still held 8-6-5-3, he would have played the six under West’s king and the three under the jack.
West, after cashing the spade jack, should, in desperation, have shifted to his club two, which would have resulted in down two.