Counting as you play 


Counting Cards - What To Count

On defense if you start the hand with 3 spades and the dummy holds 4 spades you find out the declarer had 1 spade, you can figure out how many spades your partner has. There are 13 spades. Subtract the three that you have, the four that dummy has, and the one that declarer has, and you get that your partner started the hand with 5 spades. Or you can add up the 3, 4, and 1 spades that you know about, getting 8, and subtract that from 13. As you may have noticed, that is adding and subtracting, not counting. The technical term in bridge is counting, but for goodness sakes you should not actually be counting.

Here is another point to notice about counting distribution. When you start out, you know your distribution and the dummy's. But -- again assuming your are defending -- you don't know declarer's spades, declarer's hearts, declarer's diamonds, declarer's clubs, partner's spades, partner's hearts, partner's diamonds, and partner's clubs. In a sense you are missing eight pieces of information. But, if you learn declarer's spades, you know partner's spades; if you learn declarer's hearts, you know partner's hearts, and if you know declarer's diamonds, you know partner's diamonds. And once you know those three suits you can figure out the fourth suit. So you start the hand missing only 3 pieces of information. Once you know three pieces of information, you can figure out the complete distribution of the hand. That is why you can count the distribution more often than you otherwise might expect, and that is why counting distribution is the foremost type of counting.
Our goal is to count as much as you can. First, try to figure out the distribution. Second, try to count points and place the high cards. When relevant, try to count winners. It's practice; the more you do it, the easier it gets.

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