Page 0010

10 English Bridge October 2017 www.ebu.co.uk

T

he previous two articles were about counting

the points held by the opposition. This one is

all about how to count the hand patterns of

the opponents.

Counting the hand is often seen as the preserve of

the expert. However, all it requires is practice

(although it has to be admitted it takes lots of it to

become proficient). Allow me to quote from one of

the all-time great bridge books, S J Simon's Why You

Lose At Bridge. (Nicholson & Watson 1945):

Counting The Hand. Now, don't be frightened of

this one. The only reason that you regard counting the

hand as one of those unfathomable mysteries

available only to experts is that you have never

attempted to count one. It is evidence of the aura of

mystery that surrounds the counting of a hand that

bridge beginners are liable at moment to inquire in

appropriately awed tones 'I suppose after a few rounds

you can tell every card in everybody's hand'. I cannot

. . .

. . . Sometimes, when the hand calls for it, I can

make a fairly accurate assessment of the opponents'

holding. And occasionally the count of a hand is thrust

upon me. And I never have to do anything more

difficult than to add up to thirteen.

The point about counting the hand is that it takes

effort, not advanced mathematics. In the words of

one wag it is one of those simple tasks that is

difficult to do. Simon illustrated the principle of

counting the hand with the following deal, which I

have modified below.

How should you play 4´ as South after West leads

the �tK?

The Gentle Art of Counting - 3

Basic Cardplay by Paul Bowyer

click

link

´ K 6 5

™ K J 10

t A 8 7

® K J 10 9

´ A J 9 4 3 2

™ A 4 2

t 5 4

® A 7

N

W E

S

Hand 1. South

plays in 4´. West

leads the tK.

In the book the author made South 'Mr Smug', a

slapdash player prone to error. Mr Smug took the

tA at trick one and cashed the ´K, East showing

out. Oops, spades are 4-0. Still, no matter, the

contract is still cold. However, declarer took the ´A,

cashed the ®A, the ®K and ruffed a club, hoping

the queen would fall. Nope, West overruffed, took

the ´Q, cashed the master diamond and played

another diamond, on which East threw a heart.

Declarer was now reduced to a heart guess - the

dreaded two-way finesse. After deep and supposedly

meaningful consultation with the ceiling he cashed

the ™A and led another heart. West threw a

diamond and declarer conceded defeat, with the

immortal words 'Nothing I could do, partner, every

card was wrong'.

Index

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