Counting tricks is a key strategy for declarer, but defenders should remain alert to the target at all times. Unveiling, and then counteracting, declarer’s ploy will prove particularly satisfying.

Dealer: North
Love All


West led 10♠ against the unattractive game contract. East took A♠, returned 2♠, and South won deceptively with K♠ in hand. Declarer can count five hearts on top of his three spade tricks and, therefore, he required only one diamond to fulfil his contract. Can he pull the wool over the defence’s eyes? At trick three, he led 5♦ from hand. What should West do?

West correctly hesitated, dwelling on the first tricks. With dummy holding ♥AQ, if South held five hearts, those would surely all be tricks. East’s return of 2♠ marks him with four spades or two (if he started with three spades, he would return the higher of remaining cards). If he had four spades to the ace-jack, he would have put in J♠ at trick one, so declarer is marked with four spades.

Three spades and five hearts is eight tricks; since to attack diamonds suggests that South held ♦KQ5, this now suggests short clubs, probably a singleton. Counting complete, West pounced. He rose with A♦, laid down K♣ — pinning South’s J♣ — and then continued with 7♣, allowing East to score both his 10♣ and A♣, which set the contract. If West mindlessly plays low on the first round of clubs, South’s ninth trick would be scored.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2024. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window) CommentsJump to comments section

Follow the topics in this article