Contract Bridge

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Bridge Holdup

J 10 7
10 8 3 2
A 5 3
K J 10
Q 9 6


W         E


5 4 3 2
7 5 4 Q J 6
K Q J 10 9 7 4 2
8 3 A 7 4
A K 8
A K 9
8 6
Q 9 6 5 2
South is playing a contract of 3NT (three notrump), and West leads the king of diamonds (K). There are nine needed tricks: two , two , one and four . However, if the declarer wins the ace of diamonds (A) at trick one and drives out the ace of clubs (A), the defenders will cash four tricks to set the contract.

South can assure the contract (provided the ace of clubs (A) is with East) by holding up the ace of diamonds: (s)he plays low to the first two diamond tricks (known as ducking) and wins the ace of diamonds on the third trick. Now, when East wins the ace of clubs, (s)he has no diamonds left to play. If West holds the ace of clubs, the contract is impossible to make. If, on the other hand, East had a diamond, that would mean that diamonds were originally split 4-4 and defenders could only cash three tricks in the suit, so the contract wasn't endangered.