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Bridge 11/04

Do you count losers or winners?

The oft-quoted Anonymous said, "Always imitate the behavior of the winners when you lose." That's a great idea, but difficult to do.
    When you are playing in a suit contract, do you count winners or losers?
    Your answer ought to be: Yes. More often than not, it is better to count losers. On some deals, though, the best line will be easier to spot if you count winners. So, assuming you can do it in under an hour, you should count both.
    Practice on this deal, where you are in four spades. West leads the diamond jack, East taking dummy's queen with his ace and returning a diamond to dummy's king.
    North's first bid shows 12-plus points with at least three clubs; the second, a balanced hand a tad stronger than a one-no-trump opening; and the last, three-card spade support.
    First, losers. Look at your own hand and take dummy's high cards into account. You have one heart (maybe), one diamond and two clubs (maybe). If the heart finesse is losing and clubs are not splitting 3-3, you must shake one loser.
    Next, winners. You have five spades, one heart (maybe two), one diamond and two clubs (maybe three). If the heart finesse is losing and clubs are not 3-3, you must gain one winner.
    You should play on clubs first, keeping the heart finesse in reserve. Draw one round of trumps, then play a club to dummy's king, a club to your ace and a third club. Let's assume West wins and shifts to a trump. Win in hand and ruff your last club in the shorter trump hand for the game-going trick.

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