~The Strategy of the Holdup Play


This play is most often used when playing a NT contract and LHO leads a suit in which you hold only one stopper. You want to play the single stopper at the best possible time to interrupt the opponents’ communication.
North (D)
S K72
H A65
D 94

S J643
H T84
D KJ762
C 5

H K73
C J962

S T85
H QJ92
D Q83
C K74
North-South bid to a 3NT contract in the South, and West leads the diamond 6. South must establish tricks in clubs to make the contract. If South plays the diamond A too soon and later loses the club finesse, East will return a diamond and West will take the remaining diamond tricks for a one-trick set. South needs to hold-up taking the diamond ace until East has no diamonds left to lead to West. By waiting until the third diamond lead to play the A, South can then finesse clubs—and even if the club finesse loses, East has no diamond left to lead, and South wins 10 tricks.
The Rule of Seven serves as a guideline for determining how many rounds to duck or hold-up. The Rule of Seven says to add the number of cards in the danger suit in both the declarer hand and the dummy hand; subtract that total from seven, and hold-up the indicated number of tricks. Here, North and South have a combined 5 diamonds and should hold-up two rounds. Note that if East has a fourth diamond and the K of clubs, then West has only four diamonds. E-W could then take only four tricks, 3 diamonds and a club. The contract would be safe.


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