Tricks for counting cards in bridge
The power of counting shape – bridge hand of the week
Two weeks ago, I began teaching a bridge class at Ascoli Piceno’s Circolo Cittadino (City Club); my three students, Cinzia, Giampaolo, and Valentina, had no prior knowledge of the game and were sitting at the table for the first time. I dealt a deck and began to illustrate the Whist by turning up the last card. I emphasized the importance of keeping a close eye on and remembering every card. I later got an email from Giampaolo at home, in which he wrote about card memorizing and asked me:
Sabine Auken – Sabine Auken – Sabine Auken – Sab
Some people, I believe, are better at memorizing things than others. Roy, for example, is a natural mathematician. He knows all of his credit card numbers by heart, as well as his passport number, frequent flyer number, and phone number. He knows what number it is if it is a number. I’m still pretty decent with numbers, but I’m completely hopeless at recalling things like names and faces, embarrassingly hopeless.
It’s likely that a specific part of the brain decides how good or bad a person is at memorizing. There are methods for improving one’s abilities. Making a story out of things to remember is one process. It’s easier to remember a complete story than it is to remember individual things.
Bridge – counting losers in a trump game
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At best, I can keep track of trumps in opposing hands and visualize them. Any more than that becomes extremely difficult. I lose even the trump count if I try something else, such as tracking/counting a second suit, visualizing opponents’ hands, and so on. Basically, my mind is incapable of visualizing and juggling these tasks. I’ve tried every conventional method of improvement. But it was in vain. Anyone have any unconventional ideas to deal with this?
There are numerous books on the subject; I used Ron Klinger’s ‘Improve Your Bridge Memory,’ but I’m sure your public library or bridge club has a variety. The issue is that no one but you knows which strategies work best for you.
You don’t need to count how many of your own trumps (or other significant suit) have gone if you pause at the start of the hand and say to yourself, “I have four trumps and dummy has three; that means they have six between them,” and then count each time one of the six is played. Second, if possible, make up a mnemonic for a principle: in Roman Blackwood, 5H denotes two aces of the same color, 5S denotes either two major-suit or two minor-suit aces, and 5NT denotes two of either hearts and clubs or spades and diamonds. That’s difficult to remember, but if you think of clubs and hearts as rounded shapes, and remember C for color, RA for rank, and SH for form, C-RA-SH should suffice to remind you of what you should do. (Of course, you make up your own mnemonics based on what makes you remember.)
Learn modern bridge losing trick count
One cannot simply sit back, relax, and follow suit as a defender. It’s crucial to keep track of the game and devise a strategy for dealing with declarer. In most cases, this necessitates any inquiry into the two invisible hands.
The A is won by East, who returns the two; 10, jack. To solve West’s dilemma, add his 10 HCP, the dummy’s 10, and the declarer’s minimum of 15 (assuming a 15-17 range for 1 NT) to total 35. This leaves East with a limit of 5 HCP.
East cannot have more than one jack because he has already shown the A; therefore, South has the guarded Q as well as the other important high cards. Don’t be alarmed! In the majors, proper defense is to exit with a club and wait for the setting tricks.
South takes the K, crosses to dummy with the A, and leads the J for a finesse loss. Declarer will now win three heart tricks (indicated when East was unable to beat the dummy), at least three diamonds, and at least three spades, according to West (the play of the suit marks South with the king). That’s nine tricks, so West’s only chance is to switch to clubs right away. The J is the proper lead, followed by the king. This is where the agreement is made.
Counting your winners-bridge chats
A winner is a foolproof strategy that can be used without allowing the opponents to obtain an advantage. When dummy goes down, the only way to count winners is to look at your own hand first, concentrating on one suit at a time, and then see how dummy can help.
It’s normal to be concerned about losing the lead, but if you don’t have enough tricks for your contract and need to give up the lead to create them, do so early in the game, before losing control of other suits.
Losers are more difficult to count than winners. Focus on your losers first, then your winners in suit contracts. When the defenders gain the advantage, they will win a loser trick. To start, count losers from your (declarer’s) hand. Look at the tricks you would have to lose in each suit, starting with the A, K, and Q, and then search dummy to see if there are any high cards (or shortages) that can help minimize losers. Don’t think about how you’ll get rid of the losers (perhaps by trumping them in dummy or discarding them on the winner/s). This will be addressed later. The Losing Trick Count is used by some people. It’s a different way of determining the value of a hand.