THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
THE COUNT COUNTS FROM TIME TO TIME
Mickey Mouse said, “Arithmetic is being able to count up to 20 without taking off your shoes.”
Bridge requires counting, sometimes — but rarely — as high as 40. And occasionally it is the count in one specific suit that makes all the difference — as in this deal. South is in four hearts. West leads the club ace. How should the defense proceed?
East’s overcall is no thing of beauty, but everyone likes to bid these days, especially if the bid might make it harder for the opponents to find a major-suit fit and if it probably indicates the best lead for your side should you end on defense. North then rebid three diamonds to show his six-card suit, and South bid what he hoped he could make.
East is wondering how many clubs his partner holds. If West has only three, East can win the second club, cash his heart ace, and take a third club trick for down one. But if West has four clubs, East must shift to a diamond at trick three, hoping to establish a winner there before South can draw trumps and run dummy’s spades. How will East know how many clubs West started with?
Under the club ace, East drops his king. Then, in this deal, West continues with his club two, the lowest of three remaining cards. East wins and leads the diamond nine, which defeats the contract.
If West had started with only three clubs, he would have led his original middle one at trick two, starting a high-low with a remaining doubleton.
Carding can be critical on defense. Discuss it with your partner.