Seeing through cards #21


Knowing how to ask yourselves the right questions and then answer them is the key to improve your chances on any bridge hand, be it as declarer or as defender.

I’ll give you a hand below, and a series of questions – like a riddle! Try to answer these questions by yourself. Then look at the answers, which will be presented together with the full deal.

At the end we’ll summarize a few important “Things to remember” for each problem. Enjoy!


Dealer West, All Vulnerable


Against 3♣ West led the AK. East discarded a Spade on the 2nd round of Diamond. West played a 3rd round of Diamonds, which East ruffed and continued with the 10.

  1. How are the points divided between opponents?
  2. How many losers can you count?
  3. How does the Diamond suit split?
  4. How does the Heart suit split?
  5. How does the Spade suit split?
  6. How does the Club suit split?
  7. Will you play the A, or will you play low now?
  8. How will you continue?


  1. How are the points divided between opponents?
    We can count about 12 points with West and 6 with East to justify their bids.

  2. How many losers can you count?
    3 Diamonds (including that Diamond ruff), 2 Hearts and 1 Club, which means 6 losers.

  3. How does the Diamond suit split?
    5 diamonds in West and 1 in East, since we saw that East followed just once.

  4. How does the Heart suit split?
    3 with West and 4 with East. West’s Double shows exactly 3 cards in Heart, therefore East has 4.

  5. How does the Spade suit split?
    4-4. Why? Because no one bid it. If West had 5 Spades, he would have opened the bidding with 1♠. If East had 5 Spades, he would have responded 1♠.

  6. How does the Club suit split?
    One with West and 4 with East – Known from counting the other suits. We now have the full distribution: West is 4-3-5-1 and East is 4-4-1-4.

  7. Will you play the A or will you play low now?
    If you play low, West might overtake and play another Diamond, and East will ruff your Q. You might overruff, but then you will for sure lose 2 Heart tricks. You must guard your Q to be able to discard a Heart loser on it later. So, win the A now.

  8. How will you continue?
    Knowing opponents’ distribution makes your life easy: Club to the ♣K, Club finesse to your ♣J, ♣A to drop East’s ♣Q and then back to dummy via the ♠K to discard a Heart loser on your Q. You lose just the first 3 tricks + another Heart.

Things to remember


1) Bridge is ALL about counting. You can count tricks, losers, points and distribution. This is a wonderful hand to help you practice counting distribution. The bidding helps you count the bid suits, but also the unbid suit (Spade). When counting 3 suits, you can deduct how the 4th suit splits too (which is the trumps here).

2) A support double is a powerful weapon. It is always bid by the opener on the second round of bidding. After opener opens 1 of a suit and responder bids 1 or 1♠, showing 6+ points and 4+ cards in the bid major suit. If your opponent after the responder makes an overcall (on the 1st or 2nd level), a Double now by the opener shows EXACTLY 3 cards in the responder’s major suit, and is called a SUPPORT DOUBLE.

With 4 cards in partner’s major – opener should support responder’s suit. NOTE! The Double takes priority over any other bid! So if opener does not bid it (for instance opener rebids his suit, bids NT or passes) – He DENIES having 3 cards in partner’s suit.

Example. You hold as dealer:


Although your Diamond suit is pretty, you Double to show 3 cards in Heart. Partner’s 1NT DENIES 5 cards in Heart now (else he would rebid 2 after your support double) and promises a Spade stopper. Now you can rebid your Diamonds too.

3) The Support Double does not limit opener’s hand. It can still show a range anywhere from minimum to a maximum opening.

4) Timing. Note that it’s important to win the A immediately, to prevent a 4th Diamond round and protect your Q.