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Play Problems for I/N/B players #1 Hold up or not? - part 1

#1 User is offline   Kaitlyn S 

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Posted 2017-June-22, 13:18

Hi - these problems should be very easy for experienced players but an I/N/B player needs to think about the right things when playing a hand. If you get them wrong, don't feel too bad as long as you understand the rationale for the answers. I'll provide the answers later but I'll put a hint as a spoiler. Try to solve the problem without the spoiler. Also, let me know if you would be interested in seeing more of these from time to time.

This is the first in a three-part (at least) series on holdups, and will be the easiest problem set, although it still might be a tricky set for novices.) Future sets will feature some more challenging problems.

First, what is a hold up play?



West leads the 6. East plays the Q.

Your winners are one spade, three hearts, and two clubs. You can easily develop three more in diamonds. Of course, you are going to work on diamonds as soon as you get in. However, the opponents have attacked spades where you only have one stopper, and will have some spades to cash once they get in with the A. If spades are 4-4, they can only cash three spades and the A and you will score nine tricks as long as you don't discard any winners on spades. If spades are 5-3 or worse, there is nothing you can do if the person with the long spades (presumably West who led spades) has the A. However, if you play low from both hands on the first two spade tricks, and wait until the third spade lead to win your ace, the player who had only three or less spades will now be out of spades. If that player has the A, you can safely promote diamonds, as this player won't have a spade to lead and you'll win the next lead and take nine tricks.

The whole purpose of the hold up play is to disrupt the communications between the two defenders' hands, hopefully removing from the defender who holds the A the small spade entry he needs to link to his partner's long cashing spade suit.

Of course, just because you can hold up doesn't mean you should. Let's see this in action in a few problems. Assume the opponents lead fourth-best and play standard carding.

1.

West leads the 6. How many times do you hold up?
Spoiler



2.

West leads the 2. How many times do you hold up?
Spoiler



3.

West leads the 6. What do you play from dummy on this first trick? How many times do you hold up if East plays the Q?
Spoiler



4.

West leads the 6. What do you play from dummy on this first trick? How many times do you hold up if East plays the A? How many times do you hold up if East plays a lower spade that forces your king (i.e the queen if you played the jack from dummy; the ten if you didn't.)
Spoiler

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#2 User is offline   kuhchung 

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Posted 2017-June-22, 16:19

I've never commented on these before, but these are really nice threads. Thanks Kaitlyn S.
Videos of the worst bridge player ever playing bridge:
https://www.youtube....hungPlaysBridge
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#3 User is offline   Kaitlyn S 

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Posted 2017-June-23, 12:22

1.

West leads the 6. How many times do you hold up?
Hint: What happens if you don't hold up? What might happen if you hold up? Is there a reason to hold up?

Answer: Your winners are one spade, four diamonds, and four clubs. That's nine tricks. Take your A right away, and cash your winners to make 3NT.

If you hold up, East gains the lead, and while you expect him to keep leading spades, there's no guarantee. He may switch to a heart, and if West has the ace, you could lose several heart tricks as well as the spade trick you gave up.


2.

West leads the 2. How many times do you hold up?
Hint: Are you scared that the opponents will take too many spade tricks upon winning the K?

Answer: If the diamond finesse wins, you will take four diamond tricks, four club tricks, the A, and the A (in case there are any real beginners reading this, you can lead the J from South followed by the 10 followed by a low diamond intending to play the Q, and play dummy's A only if West plays the K, thus taking all four diamond tricks any time West has the K.)

So the critical case comes when East has the K, where you will lose that trick but will take the other three diamond tricks. This will still give you nine tricks, as long as the opponents can't take five tricks first.

How many spades do you expect West to have when he leads the 2? If the 2 is fourth best, there aren't any lower cards that are fifth best so spades should split 4-4. It's perfectly safe to win the A at trick one and immediately play on diamonds. If East wins the K, E-W can only take three spade tricks and the K and you'll have nine tricks.

What might happen if you hold up? Well, if East held the KQJ10 and the K, it would be child's play for him to switch to the K to set up three heart tricks for himself to go along with the K and the spade trick you already gave them when you held up. While this might be unlucky, East knows by West's 2 lead that only four spade tricks are available at most and may switch to a heart from a weaker holding, knowing that if the defense has all four spade winners, he can always go back to spades upon winning the K.

So, if holding up is automatic for you, these two examples show that it shouldn't be.


3.

West leads the 6. What do you play from dummy on this first trick? How many times do you hold up if East plays the Q?
Hint: You only have to give up the lead once. Can you guarantee a second spade stopper?

Answer: Let me first point out some things you shouldn't do.

Let's say you play the 10 from dummy and East plays the Q. You could hold up until the third round but West could win the A and take his fourth and fifth spades and you would lose four spades and the A.

Oops! However, if West wins the A and we don't hold up, our J will provide a second stopper (West can take the king, but then the jack wins.) So we play the 10, and capture East's queen with the ace. But this time we are foiled when East wins the A, because East will lead a spade through your J and West will cover whichever spade you play, drop your last spade, and run the suit. Five tricks for the bad guys.

Or you could play low from dummy and hold up, winning your third spade. Again, if West has the A, he takes his other two spades. Curtains.

The winner is to guarantee a second spade stopper. Play low from dummy. If East doesn't play an honor, you win the J and still have your ace. If East plays an honor, capture it with the ace and your J 4 and dummy's 10 guarantee a second stopper as long as you play your 4 on the next trick; for one trick will have the 10 on it and another the J and the opponents have only one honor left, so one of those tricks will be yours.

Since you only have to give up the lead once to promote diamonds, you'll make your contract with one spade, two hearts, four diamonds, and three clubs, and also a second spade trick (which you can promote at your leisure after promoting diamonds but before taking your other winners.)


4.

West leads the 6. What do you play from dummy on this first trick? How many times do you hold up if East plays the A? How many times do you hold up if East plays a lower spade that forces your king (i.e the queen if you played the jack from dummy; the ten if you didn't.)
Hint: Can anything bad happen if you hold up?

Answer: If East plays the ace, your king is a winner whenever you want it to be, and there is nothing bad that can happen if you don't take it until the third round. In fact, you should hold up until the third round in case East has the A, since you would like East to be out of spades when he wins that card. If East has another spade, the spades are 4-4 and you are okay (assuming West led his own long suit. If East has the long spades, your hold up play wins when West has the A.)

If East plays a lower card, you must take your king now! For West could have the A and another high spade (if the jack is still in dummy, East will lead the queen at trick two to squash it, and either hold the lead or West's suit will likely run - East has a third spade because West can't have more than five if the 6 was fourth best because there's only one card lower that you don't see.) If you don't take your king when East doesn't play the ace, do you see that you will probably lose the entire spade suit without taking a single spade trick, and also lose the A, going down even when spades split 4-4?

No, when East plays a lower card, you must win the king and hope that spades split 4-4 so the opponents can't take too many tricks.

Now, what card do you play from dummy at trick 1?

Leaving the jack there can't do you any good - it will never help you maintain a stopper since East with the queen can always just lead it to squash the jack, and West's queen will capture it. (You don't have the 10 to help out this time.) However, playing the J will pay off when West has both the A and Q, and also holds the A. Your jack will win, and you'll still have the K5 in your hand to protect against the spade suit if West is the one to gain the lead. So the right play is to play the J from dummy; and hold up until the third round if East plays the A, but to capture East's Q with the K if he plays the queen at trick one.
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