Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Is it that hard to count trumps?

Each bridge deal is an opportunity and a challenge. Many of the plays are complicated. Often the bidding is complex. It's been said that you don't have to master bridge to be able to enjoy it. That's a good thing, because I don't know anyone who claims to have mastered the game -- it's just too hard.

But the basic plays must be made. You have to be able to develop tricks by taking a finesse or setting up long suits or ruffing losers in the dummy. You have to be able to manage your trumps and side suits. On defense, you have to be able to visualize declarer's and partner's hands and play accordingly.

On this deal from online bridge last night, the defender forgot the most basic thing of all -- he forgot to count trumps!

Q 4 3 2
J 10 9
A J 8
10 5 4
A 7 J 8 5
A K 7 6 5 3 Q 8 4
10 7 Q 2
J 9 7 A Q 8 6 2
K 10 9 6
K 9 6 5 4 3
K 3

At our table (deal rotated), I opened 3 in third seat. Yes, I have four spades and only six diamonds, but partner is a passed hand and they are vulnerable, we are not. Against a 4 contract, partner led the A and another to my king. I shifted to a spade and declarer won with the ace. He drew trumps and finessed in clubs. I won and cashed a spade for down one -- ho hum, a normal result.

At another table, this was the bidding:

West North East South
Pass Pass 1
1 Dbl 3 3!
4 4 All Pass

West led the A and continued with the king after East encouraged with the 8. Declarer ruffed and led a spade to the queen. He continued with another spade to his 10 and West's ace. West shifted to the 7 and East took his ace. This was the position:

4 3
A J 8
10 5
--- J
7 6 5 3 Q
10 7 Q 2
J 9 Q 8 6 2
K 9 6 5 4 3

If East had been paying attention, he would know that declarer's trump is the singleton K. If he leads his Q, declarer has to ruff, making his J high for the setting trick.

But, no, he returned a club. Declarer won the K, drew the last trump and ran diamonds, making four!

If you are interested, you can see all the results by clicking here.


  1. Good luck this week in FF. I've been in your position - most points yet not in 1st place. Take EZ down this week so I can pay you back for beating me in Week 5.

  2. Thanks, Matt. GL to you too.

    I have scored the most points of any team in the Weak / Tight league, yet my record is 7-6. Of the six losses, in five of them my opp has scored 103 points or more! Amazing, actually.