The Subtle Joy of Counting: Part II

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Matchpoints. You have 11 HCP. Not enough to open, and anyway Righty opens a 15-17 1NT. You pass resignedly, Lefty bids Stayman, Righty shows…

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Robert Frick

Robert Frick

Did you read: The Subtle Joy of Counting Part 1

You pick up

 A Q 9
 10 6
 K 10 9 7 5 
 Q 4 3

Matchpoints. You have 11 HCP. Not enough to open, and anyway Righty opens a 15-17 1NT. You pass resignedly, Lefty bids Stayman, Righty shows hearts, and Lefty jumps to game (showing by implication a 4-card spade suit).

Time to count points. The opponents bid game, so they probably have at least 25 HCP. You have 11, so you can reasonable hope for your partner have 4. So partner will be some help on this hand, but not a lot.

Because partner doesn’t have much, you might not want to lead away from an honor. But a heart lead is liable to finesse partner (when declarer would naturally finesse you without your help). So you decide to lead a diamond — either the 10 or 9, depending on how you play.

Dummy comes down with

     A Q 9
 10 6
 K 10 9 7 5 
 Q 4 3
   10 6 5 3
 K J  4
 Q 4
 A 9 6 5

Declarer plays the Q and it wins, partner playing the 2. That could be the two from J2 of diamonds. Otherwise, partner doesn’t have the jack of diamonds.

Declarer leads a club from his hand and thinks, presumably about finessing. He decides not to and plays the K. This hand has been nothing but bad news — your opening lead didn’t work, dummy came down with a solid 10 HCP, and now declarer didn’t finesse into your Q, he is probably going to finesse into dummy.

Declarer changes tack (which now that I think about it, is a little strange). He cashes 4 rounds of hearts, playing the KJ of hearts from dummy, then the AQ from his hand. You have to find two discards and opt for two diamonds. Declarer pitches a club from the board, and partner follows to four rounds of hearts in informationless unconcern.

Declarer now leads the J. There is some chance that declarer does not have the 10, and no chance that declarer will not finesse if declarer does have the 10, so you cover the J with your Q. Declarer now leads a diamond from the board and finesses the J.

What can you count?  

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