Bidding a Six Card Major
             Counting Tricks
             Getting Rid of Losers
              Ruffing High
There are two complementary approaches to counting: counting winners in a No Trump contract; and counting losers in a suit contract. 
      We evaluate a suit contract in terms of losers. How many; and how do we get rid of them.
     In the November 1999 hand the loser was TRUMPED in dummy. Other ways to get rid of a losers is to Dump them on winners or to take a Finesse. DUMP, TRUMP & FINESSE are three ways of eliminating losers. Throwing them on the floor; putting them in your pocket; or giving them away to a relative are not really acceptable Bridge maneuvers. Again think in terms of getting rid of losers by DUMP, TRUMP & FINESSE.

South opens 1 !. North responds 1 $ showing 6+ points and at least 4 cards in the Spade suit. After all it is possible for South to also have a 4 card Spade suit and a 4/4 fit in will be found. But South has only a 3 card Spade suit and cannot really support her partner. 
       South described her hand with the opening bid of 1 !. SHAPE: 5 or more Hearts; STRENGTH: 13+ points. South's rebind of 3 !  further defines her hand. 
By rebidding the Hearts she shows at least a 6 card suit; and by jumping to the 3 level she shows a hand with 16+ points. North with 10 points (9 HCP and 1 DP) carries on to game with a bid of 4 !. Note: that since South has at least a 6 card Heart suit, North needs only 2 Hearts for support. 2 + 6 = 8. Eight cards in a suit in the combined hands is a good trump fit. (see GOLDEN FIT).

The safest (and most informative) lead by West is the top of a two (or more) card sequence.  And if the lead is from a short suit, like a doubleton, there is a chance of trumping the third time that suit is played. Here West can combine both these conditions by leading the K u.
       It is true that if West does trump the third round of Diamonds she might lose  the Q !. (South can play the A ! then the K !). But maybe not. 

Dummy comes down. Play a small Diamond? No! Declarer must make a plan and a good time to do it is before playing to the first trick. And a  good plan is based on counting. In a suit contract Declarer counts losers. 
      When counting losers assume the worst distribution and all finesses will not work.  So let's do it: 0 Spades; 1 Heart; 1 Diamond; and 2 Clubs. That is 4 losers; which is down 1 at 4 !. One loser too many. What is Declarer going to do? Accept defeat? Call her doctor? No! The Declarer must find a way of eliminating one of the losers.
     PLAN: The Diamond loser is unavoidable. The Heart loser can be eliminated by taking the FINESSE. A 50/50 chance. The same is true for taking the Club FINESSE. But after the Club FINESSE is taken (win or lose) the A # can be played eliminating Clubs from Dummy. Then the 4 # can be TRUMPED in Dummy. This will eliminate one loser and the contract will be made. The only losers will be: 1 Heart, 1 Diamond and 1 Club.
      Another possible tactic is to play Spades. If the suit  breaks 3/3 then the fourth Spade in Dummy will be a winner. Then the losing Club can be DUMPED on the 13th Spade. But the 3/3 Spade split is less  than a 50% chance. (And trumps would have to be played thus preventing TRUMPING a Club loser in Dummy in case the Spades did not split evenly.) So go with the first plan of taking the Club FINESSE and TRUMPING the third Club in Dummy
      PLAY: East overtakes the K u with the Ace and shoots back the Ju. South trumps with the 9 !. (Just in case West started with the singleton K u and can trump with the 8 !.) South wins and plays a small Spade to the King in Dummy. 
      Now for the Club finesse. Play the 5 # from Dummy and put in the Q # from South's hand. If the Queen wins South will make an over trick. But the Q # loses to the King and West  returns a Spade. (As good of a defense as any.) 
      South wins with the Q $ and plays Dummy's last Club to the A #. The 4 # is played and TRUMPED with the K !! Good play. No one can over trump the K !. (South could TRUMP with the J !; play the K !; get to her hand with the A $ and then play the A !. The contract will still be made but without a chance of making an over trick as shown below.) 
      The Heart finesse is now taken: the 
J !is played and the Declarer lets it ride by playing the 5 !. If the J !  wins (or if East plays the Q !) then the Declarer would make and over trick. But the J !  loses to the Queen in West's hand. South wins any return, pulls trump and claims the rest. South lost 1 Heart, 1 Diamond and 1 Club, making 4 !.

QUESTION 1: Should you take the Spade finesse before taking the Club finesse? 

QUESTION 2: Does trumping Diamonds in the South  hand get rid of losers or create winners?


     There is not much the Defenders can do.  They will just get three tricks: 1 Heart, 1 Diamond and 1 Club. 
    No opening lead can really hurt Declarer. A trump lead and a trump continuation after winning the Club finesse will prevent Dummy from TRUMPING a Club loser, but will sacrifice the Q H.  The Declarer will not lose a Heart trick. but only 1 Diamond and 2 Clubs and still make 4 H.