Critical elements of counting


Vince Wilmont

North
♠ J 10 9
9 5 2
J 6 5 3
♣ K 8 3
 South
♠ 6 5 3
A 8
A K Q 10 9 8
♣ J 10
West North East South
1NT 2♣ (1)
2♠ (2) Pass 3♣ 3
All Pass

1NT – 15-17
(1) – 1 suiter
(2) – transfer to clubs

You duck the opening lead, win the heart continuation, and draw trumps in three rounds, West pitching 2♣, 4♠, 4♣. What are your thoughts?

It looks like they can make a partscore or perhaps a game, so you will get a good score if you manage to go down only one trick. You can manage this if you can figure out the club position. If West has the queen, you need to finesse the jack. If West has the ace, you need to play a club to the king. Which one should you choose?

Your first step is to figure out where the other honors are. Exit a spade, and let the defenders cash three spade tricks. East cashes the three top spades and the king of hearts and continues with the queen of hearts. You ruff and are at the moment of truth. What’s it going to be?

Let’s count East’s points. East has shown up with 14 points – 9 in spades and 5 in hearts. If East were to have the ♣A, that would give her 18 points – too much for a 1NT opener. You should therefore play a club to the king with confidence.

♠ J 10 9
9 5 2
J 6 5 3
♣ K 8 3
♠ 8 7 4 ♠ A K Q 2
J 10 7 6 K Q 4 3
7 4 2
♣ A 9 6 5 4 2 ♣ Q 7
♠ 6 5 3
A 8
A K Q 10 9 8
♣ J 10
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