The DMZ Hand
          8 Ever, 9 Never 

You have too many points to open 1 No Trump, but not enough points to open 2 No Trump. You are in the middle of the No Trumps; in no man's land; or in the DMZ (the De Militarized Zone). How is a DMZ hand bid? Like any other hand in Bridge - with care, consideration for your partner, and with a dash of panache. 
          After you open 1 of a suit and your partner hopefully responds (with a minimum of 6 points), you will show your DMZ hand. Not actually showing your hand to your partner, which might disturb the opponents, but by making the appropriate bid. Once this is done your side has to be at least in game. Your partner who knows what you have within a 2 point range is the captain of the hand. He will decide whether to go to game or slam.
         Frequently, you have the A K J of a suit and are missing the Queen. There is an old Bridge maxim which applies to this situation: 
8 EVER, 9 NEVER.  Which translated into English is: if  you have 8 cards in that suit, then ever or always finesse for the Queen; but if you have 9 cards in the suit, then never or do not finesse for the Queen. In EXAMPLE 1. below, you have 8 cards in the Spade suit, so 8 EVER- take the finesse for the Q S.

S A 7 5

S K J 9 8 6 

Play the A S (in case the Q S is singleton), then play the 5 S to the J S. If East has the Q S and West follows suit, you will make 5 tricks in Spades. 
          In EXAMPLE 2. below you have 9 cards in the Heart suit, so 9 NEVER - do not finesse for the 

H K J 6 4 3

H A 10 5 2 

Play the A H and then the K H (the order does not really matter) and hope that the Q H drops. That is, falls under the A H or the K H.
           Like most Bridge maxims there are exceptions, like cover an honor with an honor which is an exception to second hand low. But the exception to cover an honor with an honor is the exception to the exception, which brings us back to the rule second hand hand low. But let's forget about all these exceptions to the exception to the exception to the exception and consider today's hand which will demonstrate an exception to
         Bridge is a game of communication: by bidding or by play of the cards; by Defender or by Declarer. How to keep the lines of communication open between you and your partner (if you are on Defense); or between your hand and the table (if you are the Declarer) is often the pivotal aspect of the hand. 
          Also an important tactic is to try to sever the opponent's lines of communication. This involves plays such as the Hold Up, the Bath Coup, and the Merrimac Coup. 
         Sometimes what prevents good communication is the players' own high cards. Everybody loves high cards (as well as Saturday night), but sometimes our own high cards can get in our way and prevent us from communicating with our partner or with Dummy.
        This can call for dramatic plays like throwing your honors away. Putting them in your shirt pocket or tossing them on the floor is not cricket; and giving them to your opponents will be frowned upon in most Bridge circles. In EXAMPLE 3. you are in 3 No Trump and West just led  the 
D. You win with K D in Dummy. How can you  get to play all those good Spades? Note: if you play a Spade to the A S, you will never get back to Dummy. The A S prevents you from running the Spades; it blocks the suit. What to do?

S K Q J 10 9 8
H 4 3 2 
S 5 4

H K J 8 7 6 5
D 6
S A 8 6 4 2

Solution: throw away the A S! That is, unblock the suit. But how? Easy! On a high Diamond. After winning the opening lead with the K D, play the 
D. On the A D you can afford to be extravagant; throw away that terrible A S.  Now  take 6 Spade tricks, 2 Diamonds and a Club for 9 tricks, making 3 No Trump. By jettisoning the A S (unblocking by throwing a card away on a winner) you will enable the suit to run. 
          In this month's hand we will see an unblocking play that defies the Bridge maxim 

South has 19 points which is a DMZ hand. That is,  too many points for a 1 No Trump opener; and not enough points for a 2 No Trump opener. So South opens 1 C, hoping that partner can respond. If partner does respond then a game contract has to be bid. For even if partner has the minimum response with 6 points, they are in the game zone: 6 + 19 = 25.
           North responds 1 D. South then shows the DMZ hand by jumping to 2 No Trump. 
         What about the Heart suit? Partner might have a Heart stopper. And if not, the opponents might not lead a Heart. And if the opponents take the first 5 or 6 Heart tricks that is life. . . or Bridge. You cannot make every hand. If you do, then you are not bidding high enough.
        North with 8 points, and knowing that partner has 19 or 20 points also knows that there is game (19 + 8 = 27), but no slam. So North bids 3 No Trump. All pass.

West is on lead and reviews the bidding. South's jump to 2 No Trump shows a monster hand. If North has a minimum of 6 points then partner would have a maximum of 7 points. (19  points from South + 6 points from North + 8 points from West = 33 points between South, North, and West. Since there are 40 High Card Points in the deck, 40  - 33 = 7 points   for East.) 
            West also notes that the opponents did not bid the majors. This makes a Spade lead a good candidate. What decides the issue is that the Spade suit is headed by a 3 card broken (or incomplete) sequence. A broken sequence is when the 3rd card of the sequence is missing, but the 4th card of the sequence is there. Example: A K J 5 is a broken 3 card sequence because the Queen ( 3rd card) is missing, but the Jack (4th card) is there. K Q 9 7 is not a broken sequence; but K Q 10 7 is one.
         West also has possible entries to his hand with the Q H or the Q D.
        West puts all this data into the Bridge computer and leads the Q S.

Dummy comes down. Declarer counts winners off the top: 2 Spades, 2 Hearts, 2 Diamonds and 1 Club. 7 tricks total; 2 short to make 3 No Trump. These 2 tricks must come from the Diamond suit. 
         Declarer, who now has to play Diamonds, remembers that old saw 8 EVER, 9 NEVER. And since there are only 8 Diamonds, Declarer is about to finesse for the Queen. But wait, what happens if the finesse loses and a Spade return knocks out the last entry to Dummy?  The A D and the K D will be  winners, but there will be 2 good game making Diamonds left stranded on the table. In effect the A D and the K D got in the way. These two high cards prevented Declarer from reaching Dummy; they blocked the suit. 
         The problem facing Declarer is how to unblock the Diamonds. Unblocking plays sometimes call for dramatic extravagant maneuvers such as throwing away an Ace or a King; or throwing a winner on a winner; or winning a trick with an unnecessarily high card. In this case, it is examining that old Bridge maxim, 
8 EVER, 9 NEVER. Maybe go counter to the maxim and do not finesse with 8 cards in the suit? 
         Declarer only needs 4 Diamond tricks to make 3 No Trump. Winning a Diamond finesse is not crucial. Play the A D and K D and let the 2 D be the road to Dummy. 
PLAY: Win the opening lead of the Q S with the 
S. There is no reason to hold up. Now play the 3 D to the A D. Do not finesse. Go against the  maxim 8 EVER, 9 NEVER by playing the K D. Who knows, on a good day the sun will shine and the Q D will fall. Not to be; not to worry. Now for the coup d'entre. Play the 2 D. West wins this trick with the Q D. Dummy now has two good Diamonds which are the 8th and 9th tricks. The K S is the entry to those precious Diamonds. 
        This case communication to precedence
over winning a trick
         Declarer now wins whatever West returns and cashes out: 2 Spades, 2 Hearts, 4 Diamonds, and 1 Club 9 tricks making 3 No Trump. 
        General rules of play are fine as guidelines, but always stay alert and for when the exception may prove the winning strategy.

1. Should Declarer take the 7 winning tricks before playing the 2 D

2. Does any lead other than a Spade set the contract? 

The Defense is pretty straightforward. Try not to revoke. Any card played by West after winning with the Q D is won by Declarer, who can now take  enough winners to make 3 No Trump.