This week I've treated hold-up plays on defense; they may deceive declarer or ruin his communication. Note that if you pause before you hold up, your play may lose its effect.

To see if you have the idea, cover the West and South cards. South's 2NT opening shows 21 or 22 points. He wins the first spade with the queen and lets the jack of diamonds ride. How do you defend? (Quick!)

West has the ace of diamonds -- South would have cashed the ace before finessing. But West can't have the ace of spades too; the deck has only 40 points. Since you can't set up West's spades in a hurry, you must stop South from using the diamonds.

If you take the queen and return a spade, South wins and leads his second diamond to force out the ace. He reaches dummy with the king of spades to run the diamonds.

You must play low smoothly on the first diamond. South is sure to lead another diamond to the ten, and now you win. He gets only one diamond and only eight tricks in all.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S J 10 9 5 2 H Q 6 D A 7 5 C 7 3 2.

Dealer, at your left, bids one diamond. Your partner doubles, you respond one spade and he raises to two spades. The opponents pass. What do you say?

ANSWER: Since partner's double obliged you to respond, you'd have bid one spade with no points and four weak spades. Hence partner needs at least 17 points and good spade support to raise. Bid four spades. If he has his values, you'll make game easily.

Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

S K 8 3

H 8 5 3

D K 10 9 8 6

C 10 4

WEST

S J 10 9 5 2

H Q 6

D A 7 5

C 7 3 2

EAST

S 7 4

H J 10 9 7

D Q 3 2

C Q J 9 8

SOUTH

S A Q 6

H A K 4 2

D J 4

C A K 6 5

The bidding:

South West North East

2 NT Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening lead -- S J

Copyright 2000, Los Angeles Times Syndicate