You may think counting at bridge takes a mathematical genius like Dustin Hoffman's character in "Rain Man." But the around-the-world team of Tim Bourke (Australia) and Marc Smith (England) unlocks such "secrets" in "Countdown to Winning Bridge."

Bourke and Smith show how a defender can prevail by counting points. West leads a high club against 3NT, and the powerful dummy is discouraging. Does the defense have a chance?


Just enough points are missing for East to have a queen. If it's the queen of clubs, South will take four spades, three diamonds, a heart and an eventual club. If East has the queen of diamonds, South is sure of two clubs, two diamonds, four spades and a heart.

West must assume East has the queen of hearts. West leads a low heart at Trick Two and takes five tricks before South can get nine.

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You hold: S 8 7 3 H K J 10 5 D 8 4 C A K 6 3. Your partner opens one diamond, you respond one heart, he next bids two clubs and you raise to three clubs. Partner then bids three hearts. What do you say?

ANSWER: Your three clubs invited game, and partner's three hearts accepted and offered a choice. Since you have only four cards in hearts, bid five clubs. If partner has a hand such as 6, A92, AKQ73, QJ94, he'll bid slam and make it.

South dealer

Both sides vulnerable


S A Q J 5

H 9 4

D A K 5

C J 10 9 4


S 8 7 3

H K J 10 5

D 8 4

C A K 6 3


S 10 6 4 2

H Q 7

D 10 9 6 3 2

C 5 2


S K 9

H A 8 6 3 2

D Q J 7

C Q 8 7

South West North East

1 H Pass 1 S Pass

1 NT Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening lead -- C K