The Hold Up Play
           Danger Hand
           Repeated Finesse
Playing Bridge has often been compared with war. And one of the tactics of a good general is to isolate the enemy by severing his lines of communication. This was the salient feature of the air strikes during the 1991 Gulf War. At the Bridge table instead of Stealth bombers  and missiles, the Declarer will use the Hold Up Play and the Finesse.
      The  Hold Up Play (see MAY 2000) with the A x x is quite obvious. If the suit is led, hold up with the Ace (do not win the trick) for one or two rounds. Purpose? To sever the link between the Defenders. The following hand will demonstrate a Hold Up Play that is not so obvious: with Q x x .        This hand will also show how to isolate a Defender (the DANGER HAND) by keeping him from ever getting the lead. (see JUN 2000.) In this case it is done by taking a Finesse in a particular direction.
       Though Declarer wants to destroy Defensive communications, it is also vital for Declarer to keep the lines open between the table and the closed hand. This often involves some sort of unblocking strategy: playing a higher card than is necessary. Not so easily recognized. However, in the present case, this is used to allow Declarer to repeat a Finesse. That is, lead from the same hand more than once. 
       Often a maneuver that is unusual and not so obvious is the strategy that will win the war. To see this in the heat of battle is the sign of a superior general . .  and a good Bridge player. 

South  with 16 High Card Points (HCP) and a balanced hand makes the obligatory opening bid of 1 No Trump. North hoping to find partner with a 4 card Spade suit uses the Stayman Convention (see JAN 2000) by  bidding 2 C. This bid asks partner to bid her 4 card major. Note: the 2C bid is artificial or conventional, that is, it does not promise a Club suit. 
        South replies 2 D which is also artificial or conventional and means partner, I do not have a 4 card major. The 2 C and 2 D bids are like codes; they have meanings other then what on  the surface they appear to be saying. 2 C does not mean Clubs; and 2 D does not mean Diamonds. A code is a meta language that stands for something else. Example: put the pineapple in the juicer when green is a code for bomb the IRS on Tuesday. And 2 C over 1 No Trump is the code for partner bid your 4 card major.
        Since there is no major suit fit, North will have to determine where the hand is to be played. North is the true captain of the team and will make all the command decisions. Why North? The partner who takes control of the hand is the one who knows the most. North knows that partner has 16 - 18 HCP and a balanced. hand. That is a lot of info. South does not know anything about North's hand and therefore must follow orders. North also knows that with her 10 points they are in the Game Zone. The Game Zone is  26 combined points between the two hands. North adds them up 
10 + 16 = 26 and bids game: 3 No Trump. All pass.

A No Trump contract is often a race between the Defender's long suit versus Declarer's long suit. Once the long suit is established (your opponent does not have any cards in that suit), the little cards in that suit become winners. In this hand after three rounds of Diamonds are played, the 2 D and 3 D are winning tricks.
       In the race of the long suits the Defenders are usually ahead because they play first. So West will start with his long Diamond suit. But which one? A safe and informative lead against No Trump is the top of a 3 card sequence. Since there is no 3 card sequence in Diamonds, West leads the fourth card from the top, which is the 3 D. (see Rule of 11.)

There is nothing much the Defense can do. The play of the J D on the first trick is correct. Save the A D for the K D. Going up prematurely with the A D will present the Declarer with two Diamond tricks. 
       If after winning the trick later with the J S, East leads a Spade or a Club, this will make life easier for Declarer. So  East plays a Heart.

PLAN: Dummy's cards come down. In a No Trump contract count winners off the top. 1 Spade, 2 Hearts, 1 Diamond, and 1 Club for a total of 5 winners. 4 tricks short. Where are the needed tricks coming from? Not from the red suits. What is needed to make this hand is 1 more Spade trick and 3 Club tricks. Since the Club tricks involve taking the Finesse, the K C has to be with East for the hand to be made. So, make that assumption before planning the play. When playing the hand, if the contract seems that it cannot be made, assume the best; if it can easily be made, assume the worst. 
        The additional Spade trick will be made if the K S and J S are either split between the two Defenders, or both cards with West. 75 % chance. Good odds. If you want to learn how to compute these odds, see Double Finesse.
PLAY: Often a contract can be set or made on the first trick. The lead of the 3 D marks West with four or more Diamonds. The 4 D is played from Dummy and East puts up the J D. Now watch it! If Declarer wins with the Q D, when East gets the lead with a Spade (this will most likely have to happen in order to create a Spade trick.), East will play the A D dropping the K D. East will then lead a small Diamond that will be won by West. West will then be able to cash two more winning Diamonds setting the contract. 
       Declarer has to execute the Hold Up Play by not winning the first trick with the Q D. Now East is stuck. East has to play the A D, dropping the K D in Dummy. Finally, East plays a small Diamond. This third round of Diamonds will be won with Declarer's Queen. Now, Defensive lines of communication are severed. East is isolated (has no more Diamonds) and cannot get back to his partner's hand.
        Ready for Spades? The traditional way to handle this suit is to play a small Spade to the 
S and back a small Spade to the Q S. If East has the K S, the Q S will be a winner. But if West has the K S, and wins, he will set the contract with those two good Diamonds. West is the DANGER HAND and has to kept from getting the lead at all costs. If East gets the  lead, East is not the DANGER HAND (has no more Diamonds) and can do no harm. 
         So, play a small Spade from the closed hand and put in the 10 S from Dummy. East wins with the J S and returns a small Heart. (Remember, East does not have any more Diamonds.) Win with the A H and put the Q S on the table. If West covers with the K S, win with the A S. The 9 S will now be that extra Spade winner. Cash it after Clubs are played. 
        If West does not cover the Q S with the K S, then let the Q S ride. It wins and is that extra Spade winner. Play a small Spade to the A S
         At last we are ready for the Club suit. When in Dummy after winning the trick with the A S, take the Club Finesse. That is, play the 
C and let it ride. Problem: when the Finesse is repeated, the trick will be won in Declarer's hand. And if East started with three or more Clubs to the King, there will be no way to get back to the table and repeat the Finesse. Solution: play 3 rounds of Clubs from the table. This is done by throwing the J C away on the 
C. Costs nothing. By saving the 8 C you allow the Dummy to win the second round of Clubs ensuring that all three rounds of Clubs can be played from the table. Then play the 9 C and play the 8 C from the closed hand. Now the third round of Clubs is played from the table and the K C is trapped. Declarer gets 4 Clubs, 1 Diamond, 2 Hearts and 2 Spades for a total of 9 tricks; making 3 No Trump. 

Should Declarer play the K D at trick one?