Hold-Up Takes Courage

I continue a series on defensive hold-up plays. It doesn't take much courage to hold up with a twice-guarded king; but how many Wests would beat today's contract?

North-South landed at a hazardous 4-3 fit after North issued a strength-showing "cue bid" of two spades. (Five diamonds would be a comfortable spot; North could find the queen of hearts to make it.) At four hearts, South took the ace of spades and promptly led a heart to his jack -- and West calmly played low!

DOWN THREE

Can you blame South for assigning East the queen of hearts? South led a heart to the king and returned a third heart to his ten. He was shocked when West took the queen and cashed two spades. The defense also got three clubs: down three.

You have to admire West's courage: if South had five hearts or A-J-x-x, he'd have made overtricks, and West would have looked silly. But West knew two clubs (even if East had the king) and one trump wouldn't suffice to beat the contract.

Well defended!

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S K Q J 10 7 H Q 9 4 D 10 5 C A Q 7. You open one spade, and your partner bids two hearts. The opponents pass. What do you say?

ANSWER: Bid three hearts. This is one time when raising a major-suit response with only three cards is fine. Partner's bid of two hearts promises a five-card suit or a stout four-carder. If he had four fair hearts, he'd prefer another response -- even a temporizing response in a three-card minor.

E-W

North dealer

S A

H K 7 3

D A K J 9 7 4 3

C J 2

WEST

S K Q J 10 7

H Q 9 4

D 10 5

C A Q 7

EAST

S 8 6 4 2

H 8 6 2

D 8

C K 10 9 5 3

SOUTH

S 9 5 3

H A J 10 5

D Q 6 2

C 8 6 4

North

1 D

2 S

3 H

East

Pass

Pass

Pass

South

1 H

3 D

4 H

West

1 S

Pass

All Pass

Opening lead -- S K

Copyright 2000, Los Angeles Times Syndicate