Bridge Brief Broadcast Archive

Back to Bridge Brief Archive Index

July 5, 2001
6spade.gif (842 bytes) Contract Declare or Defend? and The Hold-Up Play

Declare or Defend?

Sitting South as dealer you pick up the following:

South

spade.gif (842 bytes)AKQ432
heart.gif (841 bytes)K6543
diamond.gif (837 bytes)
club.gif (841 bytes)J5

The auction proceeds:

West North East South
1spade.gif (842 bytes)
Pass 2club.gif (841 bytes) 2diamond.gif (837 bytes) 2heart.gif (841 bytes)
Pass 3diamond.gif (837 bytes) Double 3heart.gif (841 bytes)
Pass 4NT Pass 6diamond.gif (837 bytes)
Pass 6spade.gif (842 bytes) Pass Pass
Pass

North's 3diamond.gif (837 bytes) bid was a low level cue bid (forcing) and expresing the desire for more information. After you describe a 5-5 or 6-5 hand in spades and hearts, partner tries Blackwood. Your 6diamond.gif (837 bytes) response shows one ace and a void in diamonds. 6spade.gif (842 bytes) becomes the final contract.

The opening lead is the diamond.gif (837 bytes)2.

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)J109
heart.gif (841 bytes)A72
diamond.gif (837 bytes)KQ3
West club.gif (841 bytes)KQ32 East
spade.gif (842 bytes)??? spade.gif (842 bytes)???
heart.gif (841 bytes)??? heart.gif (841 bytes)???
diamond.gif (837 bytes)??? diamond.gif (837 bytes)???
club.gif (841 bytes)??? South (you) club.gif (841 bytes)???
spade.gif (842 bytes)AKQ432
heart.gif (841 bytes)K6543
diamond.gif (837 bytes)
club.gif (841 bytes)J5

How would you estimate your chances? Would you rather be the declarer or defender? At first glance you would probably choose defender. It appears as though you have 2 sure losers with the club.gif (841 bytes)A and a heart.

Declarer might prevail, however.

It is likely that East has the club.gif (841 bytes)A from the bidding. Declarer can use a technique known as Morton's Fork Coup. Declarer plays the diamond.gif (837 bytes)K from dummy covered by East with the diamond.gif (837 bytes)A and trumped in hand. South travels to the dummy with a trump and leads a small club.

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)J109
heart.gif (841 bytes)A72
diamond.gif (837 bytes)KQ3
West club.gif (841 bytes)KQ32 East
spade.gif (842 bytes)876 spade.gif (842 bytes)5
heart.gif (841 bytes)QJ10 heart.gif (841 bytes)98
diamond.gif (837 bytes)6542 diamond.gif (837 bytes)AJ10987
club.gif (841 bytes)764 South (you) club.gif (841 bytes)A1098
spade.gif (842 bytes)AKQ432
heart.gif (841 bytes)K6543
diamond.gif (837 bytes)
club.gif (841 bytes)J5

If East puts up the club.gif (841 bytes)A, then South gets three club tricks and, more importantly two discards for low hearts. The other two low hearts in the South hand go on the heart.gif (841 bytes)A and the diamond.gif (837 bytes)Q. Making six!

If East ducks the club.gif (841 bytes)A, then South wins the club.gif (841 bytes)J, travels back to dummy with another trump, and discards the remaining club on the diamond.gif (837 bytes)Q. Without a club loser, South finishes pulling trump and gives up one heart (hearts are 3-2 as expected). Making six!

So, you changed your mind and you want to be declarer?

East can do better.

At trick one, when declarer plays the diamond.gif (837 bytes)K from dummy....

East plays low! Now, South must choose her discard at trick one. Now the Morton's Fork Coup will not work. If South discards a heart at trick one, then East holds up on the club.gif (841 bytes)A (to capture an honor) and South cannot develop enough discards. If South discards a club at trick one, then East grabs the club.gif (841 bytes)A when given the opportunity and waits for a heart trick.

So, you are back to choosing defender?

Wrong again!

Declarer can always prevail by simply playing a low diamond at trick one and trumping in hand. Without being forced to choose an early discard, South proceeds to employ the Morton's Fork Coup by traveling to dummy and leading a small club. If East hops up with the club.gif (841 bytes)A, then South has two discards from clubs and can easily develop one more by leading the a diamond honor from dummy. If East ducks the club.gif (841 bytes)A, then South can again develop a diamond trick and discard the club and give up a heart to make the slam.

You should declare after all.

------------------------------------------

The Hold-Up Play

A hand from Issue #43 of The Bridge Companion:

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)AQ987
heart.gif (841 bytes)K75
diamond.gif (837 bytes)7
West club.gif (841 bytes)K864 East
spade.gif (842 bytes)??? spade.gif (842 bytes)???
heart.gif (841 bytes)??? heart.gif (841 bytes)???
diamond.gif (837 bytes)??? diamond.gif (837 bytes)???
club.gif (841 bytes)??? South (you) club.gif (841 bytes)???
spade.gif (842 bytes)J10
heart.gif (841 bytes)A843
diamond.gif (837 bytes)KJ43
club.gif (841 bytes)A102
West North East South
Pass 1spade.gif (842 bytes) Pass 2NT
Pass 3club.gif (841 bytes) Pass 3NT
Pass Pass Pass

Opening lead is the diamond.gif (837 bytes)6. East plays the diamond.gif (837 bytes)Q on trick one. Plan the play.

Answer:

Did you win the diamond.gif (837 bytes)K? If so, the down you go! Who holds the diamond.gif (837 bytes)A? The West hand, of course. If the spade finesse loses, your remaining diamond honor will be poorly positioned in front of the diamond.gif (837 bytes)A. After you used the hold-up play by allowing the diamond.gif (837 bytes)Q to win, you must play low to trick two as well! Only if you refused to play an honor on the first two tricks will you come home with nine winners. Remember the goal which is to isolate the defensive hands from one another.

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)AQ987
heart.gif (841 bytes)K75
diamond.gif (837 bytes)7
West club.gif (841 bytes)K864 East
spade.gif (842 bytes)5432 spade.gif (842 bytes)K6
heart.gif (841 bytes)QJ9 heart.gif (841 bytes)1062
diamond.gif (837 bytes)A9862 diamond.gif (837 bytes)Q105
club.gif (841 bytes)5 South (you) club.gif (841 bytes)QJ973
spade.gif (842 bytes)J10
heart.gif (841 bytes)A843
diamond.gif (837 bytes)KJ43
club.gif (841 bytes)A102

Thanks!
Gary King

2001 The Bridge Companion. All rights reserved.