22 October 2010

Scary stuff

Every single session of bridge somebody plays a no trump contract where they employ the hold up. Axx opposite xx is the standard example but there heaps and all bridge players beyond the very new do this without much thought. However the hold up play isn't just for no trumps, it can be applied with similar effect in trump contracts. The problem is if you get it wrong your Ace gets ruffed and your partner gives you the "that didn't look right" look; you know the one.

Consider the following hand playing matchpoints:

ST 5 3
H8 7 5 4
DA K 9 8 7 2
SA 9 7 2
HA Q J T 6
CQ 5

The auction went like this: South, my partner started with 1H, 2C was overcalled and I bid 2D. East raised to 3C, my partner doubled and when West passed I put him in game.

The play was 8S lead to the Jack and Ace, ruff a club, heart to the Ace, ruff a club, heart losing to West. West now betrayed her intelligence and attempted to cash a club leaving my partner the job of finessing the diamond for 12 tricks.

What West should have done was continue her remaining spade to her partners KQ of spades to hold declarer to 10 tricks. What South (who admitted it shortly after the hand was over) might have done was duck the opening spade. The trick is to know that West has 2 or more spades With only 1 surely East holding KQJxx would call 2S on the way to 3C. If West has 3 spades you have two losers regardless but on the chance it's a small doubleton winning the second round is the correct play.

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