Maritha Pottenger

Too often defenders panic, thinking their tricks will somehow vanish. Keeping count will keep you on track.

Your partner opens 1; RHO bids 1; and you negative double with 10654 J8 A10983 964. Now, some of you may NOT negative double with this hand as you only have 4 working points, but I encourage my partners to be aggressive with the spade suit and tell them it is OK to bid with only an Ace in your hand because it is a sure trick and an entry and you could have 6 random useless points and bid. Anyway, LHO bids 2, showing Limit Raise or better of partner's overcall. Partner now bids 2 and RHO bids 3 (help suit game try in diamonds except opponents have a bidding misunderstanding and LHO thought 2 was LR or better and RHO thought 2 was a transfer to diamonds.) Anyway, opponents stop in 3.

You lead fourth best spade and Dummy hits with: A9 Q62 KJ54 Q853 Declarer ducks and partner takes the K and plays the K. (From KQx OR AKx in middle of the hand) Your duty, with Q in dummy, is to give count, so you play the 4 and partner returns the 2. Declarer takes the A and leads a low club from dummy and ruffs it. Then Declarer cashes top two hearts and the Q. Now, a low diamond comes from the hidden hand.

Have you been counting? Declarer started with six hearts—because she pulled only two rounds and stopped. Declarer is known to have a singleton club because she ruffed the second round of clubs. Declarer is known to have exactly three spades. (She played three spades and your partner bid 2 opposite your negative double, so partner has exactly four spades.) 6+1+3 = 10. Ergo Declarer has three diamonds which means your A canNOT go away, and partner has two diamonds. However, if your partner has the Q, which is likely for her opening bid, that card could will get trashed by the K on the second round if you hop with your A. So duck smoothly on the first round.

Of course, Declarer should be counting HCP and play YOU for the A and play the K and then a low diamond. When your partner is forced to win the Q, she will be end played. She will have to either play a spade for a ruff and sluff or play another top club which declarer can ruff, setting up Q in dummy with the Q remaining as an entry.