# Mike's Bridge Quiz

### The holdup

Used properly, the holdup is a key strategy in declarer play.

When you start to play bridge, the first thing new players learn is that taking tricks is good. This is true, but you have to be selective in the tricks you take. If you lose the first four and win the last nine, that is just as good as winning the first nine tricks.

Alternatively, if you lose two tricks, then win two and lose one, then win five, lose one and then win two and lose the last, that totals nine tricks and is just as good a result as winning any other combination of nine tricks.

It usually takes a while to learn that if the goal is nine tricks, it does not matter which nine are taken. The next thing to learn is that in some cases, you must lose some tricks along the way in order to maximize the chances of making your contract.

Here is one simple example. Assume you are playing IMPs, where making your contract takes precedence. By contrast, in matchpoints it may be reasonable to jeopardize your contract in search of overtricks.

North
♠ A 8 3 2
9 7 6
A K 4
♣ K 10 2
South
♠6 5
A K
7 3 2
♣ A J 9 8 7 3
West North East South
1♣
Pass 1♠ Pass 2♣
Pass 2 Pass 2NT
Pass 3NT All Pass

You reach 3NT as South and you get the lead of the ♠Q, the major partner bid. This is a little annoying because it has hit your weak spot. Do you win this trick? If you play low, East will play the ♠7.

If you win the ace at trick one, you better guess the clubs because there is some chance that letting the opponents in will allow them to cash too many spades. Your correct play is to let them win the first trick. You will notice that this contrary to instinctive play, which is to win tricks. After all, if the clubs run, you will have at least 11 tricks. It is easy to find a reason for greed.

So you duck, and West continues with the ♠J. Should you win or let them hold the trick? Again, you duck. East plays the king on this one.

While you may lose one trick by holding up, you ensure making your contract. Do you see why?

When East wins the ♠K, he will return a spade if he has one and if he leads something else, you are home free. Simply play on clubs until the queen falls or someone wins it — you will then have five clubs, one spade and four tricks in hearts and diamonds.

Say East returns a spade. You win and will see what West does. If he follows, you know that there are not enough spades out there to hurt you. If West shows out, you learn something very important. You learn that letting East get in will be fatal.

Holding up gets you the information you need. West does show out so you play the clubs in a way that keeps East out. For extreme safety, lead to the K and lead the ♣10 from dummy and let it ride. If it loses to the queen, West won’t have another spade to lead, so you can take the rest. Making 10 tricks.

Very well done if you spotted the need to hold up in spades and then to play clubs safely. Note that West found a very good lead. His hand turned out to be:

North
♠ A 8 3 2
9 7 6
A K 4
♣ K 10 2
West
♠ Q J
8 5 4 2
Q 6 5
♣ Q 6 5 4
East
♠ K 10 9 7 4
Q J 10 3
J 10 9 8
♣ —
South
♠6 5
A K
7 3 2
♣ A J 9 8 7 3

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