Theoretical Winners and Losers

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One of East’s winners vanishes.

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Mohave Daily Miner – 25 Jun 1985

South dealer. Neither side vulnerable.

Opening lead — ten of diamonds.

In assessing his prospects in suit contracts, declarer is usually better off if he starts by counting his losers. In most hands this will give him a clearer idea of where he stands and what he has to do than if he starts by counting his winners.

However, this is a rule of convenience only, and declarer should feel free to readjust his sights when the occasion calls for it. If the Losing Trick Count and the Winning Trick Count do not add up to thirteen, there is obviously something wrong with one of them and the situation has to be re-examined. Here is an example.

West leads a diamond, dummy playing low and East takes the king and returns the king of spades, which South wins with the ace. Apparently the only losing tricks are two spades and a diamond, but when declarer leads the ace of hearts and West shows out, South learns there is a trump loser also. This unlucky break appears to presage defeat, since there are now four losers, but South can still make ten tricks if he goes about his business carefully. He first cashes the ace of clubs, then enters dummy with a diamond and ruffs a club. He repeats the operation by leading a diamond again and ruffing another club.

South next cashes the king of hearts and plays a heart to the queen. By this time he has won nine tricks — a spade, two diamonds, a club and two club ruffs, and the A-K-Q of hearts. He is in dummy and leads the ten of clubs. East has three cards left — the Q-J of spades and Jack of hearts, all theoretically winners. South has three cards left — two low spades and the eight of hearts, all theoretically losers. But the club play from dummy makes East’s position untenable. If he discards, South naffs to make trick number ten, while ih he trumps the club, South discards a spade and later scores the eight of hearts. One of East’s winners vanishes.

 

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