Learn to play Bridge


Playing: Lesson 8

Simple hold up play

There are time when not playing a winning card immediately is helpful. It will still be there on a second lead so you have not lost your chance. By doing this you can prevent the opponents making extra tricks from their long suit as it stops communication between the hands.

Only relevant in no trump hands

In the example below you only have the ace as a winning card and when that is gone the opposition have all the high cards. And it is certain one hand has four cards and may have five or six.

North hand : Eight of spades Four of Spades Two of Spades


South hand: King of spades six of spades Five of Spades

Rule of 7:

This is a technique to help you decide when to play your winning card.

After the first lead in no-trump contracts count the number of cards you hold in both hands. Subtract this total from 7 and this will tell you how many times to 'hold up' your ace.

the above hand has 6 cards and must hold up the Ace for 1 trick.

Look at the distribution of the following example. East will lead the king and will make four tricks if you play your Ace first time.

What happens if you do not play the ace until the third round?

If west gets the lead the opponents will win the last two spades. But if east gets in he can no longer lead a spade. This means you can play any finesse into the east hand and you are safe whilst you have the other suits controlled.

9 5
K Q J 7 6
10 4 2
A 8 3

Plan you play to ensure west can not get in.

Rule of 7: 3 cards in south hand and 2 in north adds up to 6
7 - 6 = 1 so hold up for 1 trick.

In this example yo only have the King as a control.

7 4
lead Ace
K 6 5

It west leads the Ace after the first lead you then have the master King. If east wins with the Ace then again you have the master.

You still need to hold up for one more trick to stop communication.

Rule of 7: 3 cards in south hand and 2 in north adds up to 6
7 - 6 = 1 so hold up for 1 trick.

If the Ace is not led and not played on the first lead you have no option but to play the king. Lets hope this does not happen.

Example Hands

These hand allow you to practice 'hold up' play

Don't forget all the other techniques as they may apply as well.

  • Remember to count your top tricks.
  • Identify any potential blockage.
  • Identify any entries needed to maintain communication.
  • Look for a long suit that will yield extra tricks.
  • Be prepared to lose a trick to gain more
  • Try to establish your tricks early, whilst you are still in control
  • Identify honour's which need to be established
  • Count you cards on the initial lead and decide if you need to hold up.
When you are ready click the 'start play' button.
Click the card you want to play when the arrow is showing.

> Return to play lesson index









© Mary Vale 2009
Learn to play bridge