Main     Import 9F11 by Charles H. Whitebrook    

The ‘Count’ Is True Bridge Nobility

February 19, 1978 — Fort Lauderdale News & Sun-Sentinel

By now, I’m afraid some of you think all I write about is the count of the hand. Matter of fact, the other evening at the Fort Lauderdale Bridge Club a so-called wit (well, half anyway) came up to me and asked me to lay out the hand that Dumas had in mind when he wrote The Count of Monte Cristo.

Anyway, I can take it, because like all modest, self-effacing writers I know I’m always right in emphasizing that phase of cardplay. First, it’s simple enough for even a tyro to learn; and second, an accurate count can turn could-be disasters into triumphs.

Mabel Pavlicek, who does a lot of successful teaching in these parts with her husband Richard, put this technique to good use on this deal from the recent Daytona Beach Mixed Pairs, finishing second overall with Milt Prassas.

5 H by South

None Vul
S A K J
H K Q 6
D 10 6 3
C Q J 5 4
S 10 8 2
H 7 4 2
D K 7
C 10 9 8 7 2
TableS Q 9 6 4 3
H 9
D Q J 8 4 2
C K 3
Lead: C 10S 7 5
H A J 10 8 5 3
D A 9 5
C A 6

West

Pass
Pass
North
1 NT
4 H
5 H
East
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
3 H
5 D

The opening club lead was covered by the jack, king and ace. Mabel didn’t know whether to be glad or sorry about avoiding a slam. If the spade queen was finessable, a losing diamond could be discarded, and six was cold. If the finesse lost, 11 tricks seemed to be the limit.

However, there was no hurry about the finesse, so Mabel decided to defer the decision until she knew more about the adverse distribution.

Accordingly, she pulled trumps ending in dummy and led a small diamond to the nine, losing to West’s king. Since one diamond must be lost in any event, giving it up while still retaining control is called “rectifying the count” — and there’s that nasty word again!

West quite naturally returned the club nine, won by the queen in dummy. Mabel next led a small club, and East again discarded a spade (he had already thrown a spade and a diamond on the trump leads). The pattern started to emerge: West had five clubs and three hearts, and East had two clubs and one heart.

Mabel trumped the club, then led another trump, discarding a diamond from dummy. The situation was now:

S A K J
H
D 10
C 5
S 10 8 2
H
D 7
C 8
TableS Q 9 6
H
D Q J
C
S 7 5
H 10
D A 5
C

On the lead of the last heart, West discarded the diamond seven; North, the diamond 10; and East was forced to discard a spade to protect the diamonds. The location of the spade queen was still in doubt.

Mabel next cashed the diamond ace, and West of course had to part with a spade to retain the high club; so the club five was thrown to leave dummy with three spade honors.

The count was now complete. West remained with two spades and a club, and East with two spades and a diamond, so the location of the spade queen was unimportant. It had to fall.

Moral: Our old friend F.I. Ness was held to 11 tricks, while the Count of Mabel Pavlicek made 12 — and a top at duplicate scoring — without risking a single trick.

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© 1978 Charles H. Whitebrook