THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
COUNTING DRIVES PLAYERS CRAZY
Niels Bohr, a Danish scientist who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1922, said, “An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.”
Why does a bridge expert make fewer mistakes than someone lower down the ranks? What makes an expert a better bridge player than someone lower down the ranks?
There are several factors, but card sense (which I believe is innate) and counting are top of the list. The more counting you do, the better you will play. Count high-card points, not just yours, but those coming from the opponents during the play. Count winners and losers. And, sometimes, you need to count hand distributions — as in this deal.
South is in four hearts. West leads the diamond nine. East overtakes with his 10, cashes the diamond king, and continues with the diamond ace. How should declarer continue after ruffing high? (West discards a club.)
North’s two diamonds was a cue-bid raise, showing three-plus hearts and at least game-invitational values. (This allows a jump-raise to three hearts to be played as pre-emptive.)
South, with three minor-suit losers, must find the spade queen. And when faced with a two-way finesse, ideally one leaves that decision until near the end of the deal.
Declarer draws trumps and plays a club to dummy’s king. East wins with his ace and returns a club. After South takes his two tricks in that suit, what has he learned?
He knows that East started with three hearts, six diamonds and at least three clubs. Ergo, he has at most one spade.
Declarer cashes his spade ace and confidently finesses through West.