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The most important task in bridge - counting - is something I find increasingly difficult to do as the years roll by. When I was younger, I always had the hand counted out. It just happened without any apparent work or effort on my part. Those days are gone and now I have to exert myself.

This hand from the USBF Seniors demonstrates how important it is to always be counting. In the closed room, E-W got to a game after South opened a weak NT and North transferred to hearts.

West
KJ106
954
K62
KQ4
East
8532
A
Q1098
A1098
W
N
E
S
 
P
1N
P
2
P
2
P
P
X
3
3
P
4
P
P
P

North led the J and the play starts:

J - A - 2 - 4

2 - 9 - J - Q

6 - 10 - 2- 4

3 - A - 6 - 4

3 5 - 6 - 5

8 - 5 - ?

A VG commentator notes that the hand can be made by picking up the jack of diamonds.  (Où est Hector?)

If you are going to ask about ops carding, I think it is standard but also irrelevant. You should also not put much faith in the ops telling you how to play.

Lets see, 18 HCP out, Q & J are with North. If A also, only 11 for 2nd seat red 1NT. South would likely pass. If J was top, then S holds A, KQ, A and it appears the J. The J would make it 15 and a strong NT.

Put up K, ruff a heart, club back, pull trump and hook the J.

Which is what the actual declarer did. Or at least likely did because after the K the play record shows a claim of -1 was accepted. The lead of J was from KJ10xx. So before you start posting about needing to know carding agreements, here is a hand:  (Notice anything strange?)

 

West
KJ106
954
K62
KQ4
North
Q74
KJ1076
J74
65
East
8532
A
Q1098
A1098
South
A9
Q832
AJ5
J732
W
N
E
S
 
P
1N
P
2
P
2
P
P
X
3
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 West
NS: 0 EW: 0

 

Why yes, both opponents hold the J. The board is fouled and you call the director to report that. To your surprise, Fred Gittlemen shows up!

“What seems to be the problem?” asks Fred.

“Both North and South have the jack of diamonds. Being a wise guy, you add: “also, if you are directing, the other problem is it appears that you have fallen on hard times.”

“Actually”, replied Fred, “you are the one who has fallen. You fell from grace and fell through a wormhole into BridgeMaster. I am just here to tell you that the J is irrelevant. You can keep finessing all day, either way and it won’t ever work here in my universe. If you were counting everything you would know how to make this hand. So try again."

Three spades, two heart ruffs, one diamond and four clubs is ten tricks. If clubs are 3-3 you can overtake third round. When North follows to the K, you know North does not have four clubs because with three spades, five hearts and four clubs he would have led a stiff diamond. If South has four clubs, he will be strip squeezed on the last spade. So cash the last spade pitching a diamond and stiffing the Q.  If South pitches a club they will be good. If South pitches a diamond, declarer plays his Q. If North follows, overtake as the clubs were always 3-3. If North pitches, play a low club from dummy, exit a diamond and South is forced to give you the A.  

As a minor note, declarer cannot afford to cash the high club before the last spade.  And I suppose with two J in the deck, if North had led his, he could have set 4 Wink

The other table started P-P West opened 1 and passed the 1 response. Heart lead, spade to queen and when a club came back, with the East hand concealed, North covered the ten. +170 the easy way.

Eddie Kantar once wrote that one should count every hand as if your life depended on it and it becomes easy - in about 15 years. Strip squeezes are easy, always be counting not so much. And despite Eddie's "assurances", it has not gotten any easier for me to always be counting in the last decade and a half.

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