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You are the declarer at a 3NT contract (1NT, 3NT, no opposing bids). West leads what appears to be a five card suit, and you have Axx in dummy.

Your main concern is that East can get the setting trick by attacking a vulnerable tenace you have in hand; something like Jxx in the led suit, or AQx in a side suit (and maybe the the answer to the question below is found in the difference between one and the other).

At times, you should go up with the ace in dummy (if East has an honor and a small card) to "block" the suit. At other times, you should hold up the ace until the third round to exhaust East of the led suit. How do you tell the difference?

A club kibitzer gave the opinion, "You use a blocking play if you're worried about what will happen in the LED suit (e.g. if your tenace is Jxx, above), and you use a holdup play when you're worried about what will happen in a different suit (e.g, your AQx tenace)." Is there any truth to this statement?

I haven't stated whether West led from "top of a sequence" or "fourth best," but maybe the answer to question lies in the difference between the two.

Because another take of this matter is "avoidance." That is, if the priority is to keep East off lead, then let West win if he led a high card, and cover if West led fourth best, to prevent East from getting the lead.

I have been told that if I have something like Axx in hand opposite xx in dummy, I should hold up, and hope to exhaust East of the suit. But if I have Axx opposite xxx, West led the queen (denying the king), and East plays low, I might take the trick to "block" the king in East. Does this make sense?

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It depends on the hand. What are you exactly looking for? – Aryabhata Sep 12 '12 at 14:41
@aryabhata: I'm looking for some examples. You usually have brilliant ones. – Tom Au Sep 18 '12 at 16:27
Thanks Tom! I am a bit busy these days and don't really have much time unfortunately... – Aryabhata Sep 19 '12 at 3:50
@TomAu: That is an entirely different hand situation, and should be a new question. I will dig up some examples to answer it with if you create the post. – Forget I was ever here Sep 2 '13 at 20:02

To prevent the lead form RHO through your tenace, you want to win the ace when RHO plays his last card in the suit. If it looks like LHO has 5 cards, with three in dummy and your hand, win the second round with the ace. If you have only two in had with three in dummy, win the third round with the ace.

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