THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
THE POINT-COUNT POINTS THE WAY
Edith Wharton was a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1927, 1928 and 1930. She said, “One knows one’s weak points so well, that it’s rather bewildering to have the critics overlook them and invent others.”
One of the weak points of most bridge players is the inability to track the high-card points — and that is arguably the most important thing to count during a deal.
How would that help East to find the right defense here?
South is in four spades. West leads the heart ace. What should happen?
The auction follows Standard American. If you have taken up two-over-one game-force, North might rebid three spades (forcing). Then South would probably settle into four spades, since he has a minimum opening bid. However, his secondary club fit might make him wonder about a slam. Note that if, for example, North’s diamond king were the heart king, six clubs would be an excellent contract.
Since East does not want his partner to shift suits, he should encourage enthusiastically with his heart eight. Then West should cash his heart king and lead his third heart. After winning this trick, East should track the high-card points. The dummy has 13, West has produced seven, and East has seven. That leaves only 13 missing. South must have the spade ace-king and diamond ace.
This means that the defenders cannot win a minor-suit trick. They must get a trump trick to defeat the contract. So East should lead his last heart. When West ruffs with the spade eight, it effects an uppercut and gives East that crucial trump winner.