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Bridge 12/26
Count the cards that partner holds
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    Actress Tallulah Bankhead, who died in 1968, said, "It's one of the tragic ironies of the theater that only one man in it can count on steady work: the night watchman."
    A bridge player who steadily counts can count on steady work. In this deal, you are East, defending against South's contract of three no-trump. West leads a fourth-highest club four. What would you be counting and what would be your plan?
    North has a close decision when his partner opens two no-trump. With a hand full of "quacks" — queens and jacks — there is a good case for responding three no-trump. This is doubly true if there is no 4-4 spade fit, because then using Stayman would have given free information to the opponents. But if there is an eight-card spade fit, the club suit might prove to be a fatal weakness in three no-trump.
    As you can see the club two in your hand and the club three in the dummy, you know that partner has led from a four-card suit and that South started with five clubs. After winning with your ace, it is time to look elsewhere; don't risk establishing South's club suit. That "elsewhere" is obviously diamonds (and it would be, even if your suit were weaker). Shift to the diamond king.
    Declarer will probably duck the first diamond, win the second one perforce, and knowing he must score one club trick, try a sneaky nine. But if West is still awake, he will go in with the king and return his last diamond. You get three diamonds and two clubs.
    Work out how many cards partner has in the suit he led. If declarer has more, it is probably right to switch to a different suit.
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