Games: Bridge

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When a defender holds AJx or Axx in the trump suit it is usually better, as a matter of tactics, to hold up the ace for one round. This was a deal where the hold-up would have proved essential although, to be fair, not easy.

South opened One No-trump (15-17 points) and North bid Two Diamonds - a transfer to hearts. South dutifully obliged with Two Hearts and North followed with Three Clubs. As on the partnership's methods Three Hearts by South could now be passed, he jumped to Four Hearts. He had, after all, a maximum and three good trumps.

West led the jack of diamonds against Four Hearts and, after winning on the table, declarer led a trump to the king and ace. West continued diamonds, but now South had an easy run. He won in hand and took a losing club finesse. A trump came back but, after winning with his queen, there was now only a trump to lose. One of dummy's losing clubs was ruffed and the other one went away on a top diamond.

Now, suppose that West allows the king of hearts to win on the first round of the suit? (Yes, he will look foolish if South's hearts are only as good as Kxx and East holds the queen.) Declarer probably finesses in clubs next but East wins and plays another trump (in fact another diamond works just as well, for he is now in a position to over-ruff dummy if no more trumps are played) and now West takes his two trump tricks to leave South a trick short of his contract. The real point is that declarer needs to draw exactly two rounds of trumps (not one, not three) and the duck prevents him from doing this.

] Q 10 9

_ A J 6

+ J 10 9 7 3

[ 9 6

] 4 2

_ 9 8 5 3 2

+ A 8

[ A Q 10 5

] J 8 7 5

_ 10 4

+ 5 4

[ K J 8 4 2

] A K 6 3

_ K Q 7

+ K Q 6 2

[ 7 3