N-S vulnerable

NORTH (D)

{spade} A Q 5 2

{heart} K 7 3

{diam} J 6

{club} A 9 6 2

WEST

{spade} 8 4

{heart} J 9 4

{diam} Q 8 5 2

{club} K 10 5 3

EAST

{spade} 9 6

{heart} A Q 10 5

{diam} K 4 3

{club} J 8 7 4

SOUTH

{spade} K J 10 7 3

{heart} 8 6 2

{diam} A 10 9 7

{club} Q

The bidding: North EastSouthWest1 {club} Pass1 {spade} Pass 2 {spade} Pass3 {spade} Pass4 {spade} All Pass Opening lead: {diam} 2

One rule of hold-up play (my topic this week): Don't hold up when you can assure an extra trick by winning. Alas, the rule has exceptions; that's the challenge of the game. In today's deal dummy plays low on the first diamond, and East puts up the king. South can get an extra diamond winner -- three in all -- if he takes the ace.

But then if South draws trumps and leads a diamond, West will grab the queen and may shift to the jack of hearts. (West knows South has the ten of diamonds since East would have played it at Trick One if he had it. If South also has the nine, he can get two heart discards in dummy.) Down South goes.

South does best to refuse the first diamond so West can't win a diamond trick and lead a heart through dummy. South wins the next diamond with the ace and leads the ten: queen, ruff. South then draws trumps, discards a heart from dummy on the nine of diamonds and leads a heart. He loses two hearts but makes his game contract.

Daily Question

You hold:

{spade} A Q 5 2 {heart} K 7 3 {diam} J 6 {club} A 9 6 2.

Your partner opens one heart, you bid one spade and he jumps to three hearts. The opponents pass. What do you say?

Answer: Your partner promises 16 to 18 points with six good hearts, hence slam is quite possible. One approach is to bid four clubs, then raise the hearts. Another is to blast directly into six hearts. Partner will take 13 tricks only if he has a perfect maximum such as K 4 3, A Q J 8 6 4, A K 5, 5.

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