# Counting by Guy Levé

Counting is often the alpha and omega, the start and very often the end of the thinking techniques that one must apply to any bridge deal.

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On 7 March, 2014 At 11:53

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Guy Levé

Counting is often the alpha and omega, the start and very often the end of the thinking techniques that one must apply to any bridge deal. Counting, never to more than 13 in regard to distribution and rarely to more than 20 as far as points go, often leads to precise knowledge of the concealed hands, the distribution as well as the placement of missing honors. Any self-respecting player pays careful attention to the cards that are played, so as to be able to make useful and necessary inferences. Using our driving analogy, we look at the road and other cars; we drive carefully and pay attention to everything that happens around us. If we don’t, we’re going to have an accident!

Declarer counts the distribution

The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge.

 K53 A42 Q842 K103 AQ7 KQ6 AKJ3 AJ5

South plays 7NT; West leads the J. It’s easy to count twelve tricks; all that remains is to locate the Q. The only effective way to find her is to cash all the winners in the other three suits and watch what happens. The opponents will follow or discard; their distribution will then be known. On the diamonds, at least one opponent will show out, possibly also in another suit. Suppose East follows only twice in each major suit and follows three times in diamonds. Now twelve of West’s cards are known and it is clear that he has a singleton club. Cash the K and take a proven finesse against East’s queen.

A defender counts the distribution

The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge.

 KJ 1053 A863 A872 AQ6 J976 QJ10 J95

South plays 5 ; West leads the 5. East takes the J with the queen and returns the ace, ruffed by declarer. Declarer cashes the A and K, West following only once. Then he plays the A, K and Q, West following three times. Declarer then plays a diamond to East’s queen. The count of the South hand is simple: 1-3-5, leaving four clubs. A club play now could well be disastrous, but a heart return, even though it is a ruff and sluff, cannot allow the contract to make.

Declarer counts points

 432 AQ65 6543 J2 QJ10965 432 AJ KQ

East opened a strong notrump and South plays in 2 . East has 15-17 points; North-South have 20 and West has the rest (3-5 points).  West leads a diamond to East’s king, taken with declarer’s ace. Now declarer plays the Q: West takes the king, and cashes his Q. West has already shown up with 5 points. He can’t have anything else! West plays another diamond, ruffed in the closed hand. A second round of spades goes to East’s ace (West discards a club) and East cashes his A and continues clubs. Declarer wins and draws the last adverse trump.  Where are the heart honors? Obviously,
East has them, so the heart finesse will lose. Declarer has to hope that the KJ are doubleton, giving East a 3-2-4-4 hand with 15 points. He can then play a small heart from both hands, followed by the ace (or vice versa). When the heart honors fall doubleton, the Q is high.

A defender counts points

 76 52 A954 KQ932 KJ102 AJ964 76 J8

South plays 3NT after he has opened with a strong 1NT; West leads the 6. East plays the 8 and declarer wins with the 10. He then cashes the A, plays the 4 to the king and cashes the Q, discarding the 3. Then he plays the 5 to his jack, followed by the K and online casino A. Presumably disappointed that neither minor suit is breaking, he now plays the 5 to his king, West taking his ace. At this stage, West still has KJ10 and J9. Counting declarer’s points, he has seen 4 in clubs, 4 in diamonds and 5 in hearts, for 13 points in all. Therefore, South cannot have both the A and Q for his 15-17 point 1NT opener. If he has the ace, he already has nine tricks; if he has the queen, however, he will go down two when West now leads the 10 to East’s ace and a second spade is led through.

A defender counts declarer’s tricks

 103 A852 QJ109 843 K752 103 AK2 AK109 J984 97 863 7652 AQ6 KQJ64 754 QJ

South plays 3 ; West leads the K. East gives count. West can see four tricks for his side and asks himself if he should look for one more in spades where East has a high honor, before North’s diamonds are established. However, counting  declarer’s potential tricks, only eight can be found. West must not give him a ninth trick. West simply takes his four  honor tricks in the minors and belatedly gives the lead back to declarer, in any suit but spades.

A defender helps his partner to count declarer’s hand

 K765 102 Q963 K54 A9 9 AK1072 AQJ102 J108432 K 854 763 Q AQJ876543 J 98

South has bid to 5 after East-West competed to 4 ; West leads the A. On the A lead, East plays the jack, denying the queen, which falls from declarer. West cashes the K (East plays the 4, signaling count) and switches to a trump, fearing that declarer is void in clubs. Declarer wins with the A, crosses to dummy with the 10, discards the 9 on the K, and returns to hand by ruffing a spade to cash all his trumps. At this point, East has to help his partner, who may not know what to discard on the last trump in a two-card ending. Was declarer 2-1 or 1-2 in the minors? Spade discards are meaningless — East must start by discarding all his diamonds and clubs. West can then count declarer’s hand and throw all his diamonds, keeping the A rather than the A as his last card. If he does not do this, he could be in trouble, even more so if declarer throws the K from dummy to keep the Q, a nice decoy if West has forgotten the count signal in diamonds given by East. This is a ‘memory squeeze’, permitting the 8 to become Trick 12. Giving count is essential, but a little more help can be useful.

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