# BBO Discussion Forums: counting cards - BBO Discussion Forums

Page 1 of 1

### #1sceptic

• Posts: 2,343
• Joined: 2004-January-03

Posted 2004-July-21, 03:51

What is the best way to learn to count suits?

i.e. add your own holdings and count remainder down (I have 6 hearts 7 outstanding each time one is played deduct it from the total)

is it better to only count certain suits or better to improve and be able to count all 4 suits.(or is it ok to target certain suits and if so what factors do you take into account to decide which ones to count)
0

### #2EarlPurple

• Group: Full Members
• Posts: 403
• Joined: 2003-December-30
• Location:London

Posted 2004-July-21, 03:56

You see two hands so you have to determine the distribution in just one of the other hands.

If you are declarer, pick one of the opponents and work out his distribution. Then you will know the other one's distribution.

If you are defending, do the same either with partner or declarer.

Sometimes you will have to guess until you have further information.
You can't keep a good man down
0

### #3kgr

• Posts: 3,330
• Joined: 2003-April-11

Posted 2004-July-21, 04:16

- Counting remainder cards is easier.
- From the bidding and play make assumptions about distribution and HCP. Go from there to count (taking into account the assumptions made, it is possible you will have to adjust them).
eg.: you defend after the bidding 1NT-3NT. If 1NT is strong then give opener 16HCP and calculate HCP for partner. Subtract the points he shows later (taking into account that it can be 1 more or less).
- First try to count the suits you think that will matter, later count all suits.
- count as much as possible. The more you count the easier it will become (but don't count too much. It still is important to know eg if an A in a certain suit is already played )
... Probably it is better to read some material of experts on this (try in Google to search on +bridge +cards +counting)
0

### #4inquiry

• Posts: 14,563
• Joined: 2003-February-13
• Gender:Male
• Location:Amelia Island, FL
• Interests:Bridge, what else?

Posted 2004-July-21, 05:02

Take a look at the following two threads. The first is in a thread on how to count pips, and the second is my reply to tell us your bridge tips.

http://bridgebase.lunarpages.com/~bridge2/...findpost&p=2630

http://bridgebase.lunarpages.com/~bridge2/...findpost&p=1094

Two more, luis's very nice "counting declearer's hand post"
http://bridgebase.lunarpages.com/~bridge2/...findpost&p=3351

and another one by me on counting, entitled echos from the bidding..
http://bridgebase.lunarpages.com/~bridge2/...findpost&p=3464
--Ben--

### #5Free

• mmm Duvel
• Posts: 10,728
• Joined: 2003-July-30
• Gender:Male
• Location:Belgium
• Interests:Duvel, Whisky

Posted 2004-July-21, 05:44

Defending:
If dummy comes on the table, you can count your HCP, dummy's HCP, and usually declarer's HCP as well. Say declarer opened 1NT (15-17), then you'll know from the first trick how many HCP partner approximatly has. From the bidding, you can extract a lot of usefull info: declarer has a 5 card suit, a balanced hand, (no) fit with dummy's suit,...

Counting cards during the play is another story. These days I don't have any problems with counting all cards, but in the early days I couldn't do it. It's something you have to develop.
An easy trick I used to learn it, is just remember your initial distribution, so you'll know how many times a suit has been played. Only thing you have to remember if someone showed out, and what he discarded. Once you can count all cards, you can start remembering what cards have been played. Then you'll know what cards are high. You can also combine these two methods to learn faster, but it's better to get at least 1 count right than 2 wrong This method works best in NT contracts, where nobody had a singleton/void, or if you have a 4333 hand.
Ofcourse it's important not to count ALL suits in the beginning. Count the most important suits. In NT, it's our long suit and their long suit (so you'll know how many discards you need). In trump, it's mainly the trump suit.
To develop counting skills, best way imo is to start counting 1 suit (the one you think is the most important), go for 2 suits after a while, then 3 suits, and finally 4 suits. Make sure you know EVERYTHING of the suits you count: remaining cards, if it's a high or low card,...
"It may be rude to leave to go to the bathroom, but it's downright stupid to sit there and piss yourself" - blackshoe
0

### #6vang

• Group: Full Members
• Posts: 278
• Joined: 2004-February-18
• Gender:Male
• Location:Romania
• Interests:Linux

Posted 2004-July-21, 08:03

the easiest way to count is to not count ;-) try to use 'pattern recognition':
Memorize the table of distribution (is not that hard). 4333-4432-4441;5332-5431-5422-etc
Since you (usually) have 13 cards in hand and a suit has 13 cards, this means that the above patterns can be used for distribution of a hand or for how a suit is distributed around the table.

Then, during play, try to visualize distributons (of hands and of suits arounf table).

For example: you are declarer and you have trumps 5-3. You play 2 rounds, all follow. The trump suit is divided 5332 and there is one left to one opponent. Or you play 2 rounds, but one opp follow only first time => the only distribution possible is 5431.
0

### #7guggie

• Group: Full Members
• Posts: 147
• Joined: 2004-April-30

Posted 2004-July-21, 09:54

Peter IJsselmuiden gave me this link to practise in pattern recognition:

http://www.eastontar.../countIntro.htm

if you have 15 idle minutes, try it;-)
0

### #8inquiry

• Posts: 14,563
• Joined: 2003-February-13
• Gender:Male
• Location:Amelia Island, FL
• Interests:Bridge, what else?

Posted 2004-July-21, 10:57

Nice link. Actually, after you finish with count1... I think count2 is more real world type practice... AND NEVER COUNT...pattern this out like vang suggested, and also suggested in pretty much all the links I gave in my first post in this thread. You will find this is really pretty easy.

Ben
--Ben--

### #9rona_

• Group: Full Members
• Posts: 219
• Joined: 2003-October-10

Posted 2004-July-22, 02:22

In shop bridge on BBO, you can buy the cd, Counting at Bridge by Mike Lawrence.I had it sent to a US address and it was received in a couple of days. Have no idea why it's called snail mail
0

### #10Quantumcat

• Group: Full Members
• Posts: 944
• Joined: 2007-April-11
• Gender:Female
• Location:Bathurst, Australia
• Interests:Archery, classical guitar, piano, watercolour painting, programming, french

Posted 2012-March-19, 22:25

First listen to the bidding. Say it goes 1 1NT 2 2 all pass. You say to yourself, "Declarer has 5 or 6 spades and 4 or 5 clubs".

Then dummy comes down. It has two spades and three clubs. You are also holding two spades and three clubs.

Wonder what partner can have. If declarer has six spades, partner will have three. If declarer has five, partner will have four. Say to yourself, "If pard shows an even number, declarer has five trumps. If pard shows an odd number, declarer has six." Same with the clubs. If declarer has four clubs, partner will have three. If declarer has five clubs, partner will have two. So you say to yourself, "If partner shows an odd number, declarer has four clubs. If he shows an even number, declarer has five."

Now if you have said these things firmly enough to yourself in the beginning, you won't need to think about it again. As soon as you see your partner's count cards it will just click in your mind and you can use your brain for coming up with a good defence instead of trying to figure out the distribution.
I Transfers
0

### #11BunnyGo

• Lamentable Bunny
• Posts: 1,504
• Joined: 2008-March-01
• Gender:Male
• Location:Portland, ME

Posted 2012-March-20, 03:58

sceptic, on 2004-July-21, 03:51, said:

What is the best way to learn to count suits?

i.e. add your own holdings and count remainder down (I have 6 hearts 7 outstanding each time one is played deduct it from the total)

is it better to only count certain suits or better to improve and be able to count all 4 suits.(or is it ok to target certain suits and if so what factors do you take into account to decide which ones to count)

When I first started playing hearts, bridge, etc. I counted suits by saying to myself, "We've all played to two tricks, that's 8, I have 2 left, that's 10, so 3 remaining." This worked well enough, but required a lot of memory to remember exactly what was discarded and how many times someone didn't follow suit.

I read a couple books that suggested I do something else, and so now I count "what people started with". For example, "I started with 4, dummy with 3, Left hand opponent followed to 2 rounds but then showed out, so Right hand opponent started with 4. So Right hand opponent has 2 left, because there have been two rounds played." I now find this much easier, because I don't have to update the first two numbers--what dummy and I started with doesn't change.

It is of course best to count as many different things as possible (all 4 suits, high card points, every single spot card, etc.) but this is very hard and makes focusing on other important things difficult. When I was learning how to count more, I'd set a goal before every session, "I'm gonna count the trumps correctly every hand, no matter what else I get wrong i'll do that correctly." And the session was "good" if I succeeded, no matter what else went wrong. I slowly made the challenges more difficult until I just found myself counting while playing.

It is of course ok to target certain suits if counting all 4 suits is hard. I'd recommend trump and the 16 honors (Jacks, Queens, Kings, Aces--and Tens if you can manage) as the most important things to keep track of at first.

Hope this helps!

-Ben
Bridge Personality: 44 44 43 34

Never tell the same lie twice. - Elim Garek on the real moral of "The boy who cried wolf"
0

### #12bluecalm

• Posts: 2,555
• Joined: 2007-January-22

Posted 2012-March-20, 05:09

Quote

Nice link. Actually, after you finish with count1... I think count2 is more real world type practice... AND NEVER COUNT...pattern this out like vang suggested, and also suggested in pretty much all the links I gave in my first post in this thread. You will find this is really pretty easy.

Yeah, link two is cool. If it was more competitive (time, best scores etc) it would be real fun even for people who don't have much trouble keeping track of patterns.

As to counting... Beside all the links there was this old bridge book: http://www.amazon.co...y/dp/0910791228 which was 2nd book I ever read about bridge and which got me hooked on the game. I think it really open your eyes, highly reccomended (along with "reading opponents cards" by Lawrence which has many more tips about what and how to count).
0

### #13P_Marlowe

• Posts: 9,128
• Joined: 2005-March-18
• Gender:Male

Posted 2012-March-20, 10:13

Hi,

I like the approache suggested in
http://www.amazon.co...n/dp/189710653X

A similar appaoch got suggested by Pavlicek.

There are 20 reasonale patterns, the bidding / lead will rule out certain hand patterns,
take it from there.

With kind regards
Marlowe

PS: Just saw, that this was already suggested.
With kind regards
Uwe Gebhardt (P_Marlowe)
0

### #14daveharty

• Group: Full Members
• Posts: 694
• Joined: 2010-October-21
• Gender:Male
• Location:Ann Arbor, MI
• Interests:Bridge, juggling, disc sports, Jane Austen, writing, cosmology, and Mexican food

Posted 2012-March-20, 10:23

As long as we are digging around in ancient threads, several years ago Fred created a game that might prove of interest in developing hand pattern recognition:

http://www.bridgebas...amily-can-play/
Revised Bridge Personality: 44 43 33 44

Dianne, I'm holding in my hand a small box of chocolate bunnies... --Agent Dale Cooper
0

### #15Zelandakh

• Posts: 9,742
• Joined: 2006-May-18
• Gender:Not Telling

Posted 2012-March-21, 06:19

As someone that has had a lot of problems in this area I am not convinced that the same method works for everyone. I have tried the suggested approach and have little doubt that it is the best for the majority. However it did not work for me. It is great to be able to know that LHO started with 5431 and RHO with 1345 but what I want to know is what they have in their hands right now. And I never quite managed to put these 2 things together.

Having now tried pretty much every method I have found the best for me is to simply concentrate on remembering the tricks and make a mental note whenever a suit distribution is counted. This is slower but (for me) more accurate. When I reach the critical point in the hand I just have to stop and replay everything - the solution follows. It makes my partner really nervous ("I don't know why you stopped to think for so long, it was so obvious") but it works. So I would recommend first trying the normal approach - try it for a long time. If that does not work for you you might consider alternatives, especially if you are a type that often has an unusual way of thinking about things.
(-: Zel :-)
0

### #16TWO4BRIDGE

• Posts: 2,247
• Joined: 2010-October-21
• Gender:Male
• Location:Texas

Posted 2012-March-25, 15:20

A sometimes poster here posted this on rec.games.bridge back in January :

Rules by Priorknowledge ( 1/24/2012 )

"FIRST RULE: DON'T COUNT TO 13. If you are counting suits to 13, you
are doing it wrong. Why count cards you already know about. Counting
suits to 13 is a novice practice. You will never advance to the next
level if you still do that.

Memorize your hand. When dummy hits, memorize dummy.

Now count only the outstanding cards. It is a lot easier to keep track
of 26 cards than 52. But even that is difficult.

The real SECRET is counting by breaks. Say, you started with 3 spades
and dummy had 5. That means there are 5 spades outstanding in the two
hidden hands. They can break 5-0, 4-1, 3-2, 2-3, 1-4, and 0-5.
Counting by breaks allows you to more easily reconstruct the original
hands. Plus, once you see someone show out, you have that suit
counted. When you see a count signal, use that to compute the possible
ways that suit can break.

SECOND RULE: Make sure you look at each card. I know this sounds silly
("Of course I look at each card"), but do you really register it in
your mind? Sometimes we get lazy and only glance at a card. So make
sure you consciously register each of the outstanding cards played.

THIRD RULE: Practice. Even on the hands where it does not make any
difference, practice your counting by breaks so that it becomes second
nature.

FOURTH RULE: Play with partners that give count signals and pay
attention to them. And give them yourself.

At first, doing this will slow down your game. Bridge is an
intellectual game. You are allowed to think. Plus, if you are used to
counting to 13, when starting counting only outstanding cards, you
will make mistakes. Lots of them. I hope you have forgiving partners.
But you will find it easier as you go along. Make sure you count ONLY
by breaks when declarer or defender. Never go back to counting to 13
"just to double-check". If you get it wrong, don't worry about it.

.....I hope this is useful. GOOD LUCK! "
Don Stenmark
TWOferBRIDGE
"imo by far in bridge the least understood concept is how to bid over a jump-shift
( 1M-1NT!-3m-?? )." ....Justin Lall

" Did someone mention relays? " .... Zelandakh

K-Rex to Mikeh : " Sometimes you drive me nuts " .
0

### #17EricK

• Posts: 2,294
• Joined: 2003-February-14
• Location:England

Posted 2012-March-26, 11:24

What do you keep active track of, and what do you work out should the need arise? eg Is it better to try to keep a track of what everyone has left, and work out their initial holding if you need to; or try to keep track of what their hand was to begin with, and work out what they have left; or try to keep track of both things?

eg You are in a contract; LHO leads a ; you have 3, dummy has 4; RHO takes the Ace and returns a small one which LHO ruffs. What do you say to yourself at this point? Do you try to memorize something like "LHO had the singleton 6 and has none left; RHO started with AJ972 and has J97 left; LHO had 5". Or do you just memorize something like " were 1-5 two rounds have been played, and LHO showed out. The only big gone is the A"? Or something else? And do you try to remember in words (as above) or pictures (i.e. literally visualize the missing hands as hands of cards? or something else?
0