Mark Horton

Blocking Play

In American football, blocking is a legal move occurring when one player obstructs another player’s path with his body. The purpose of blocking is to prevent defensive players tackling the ball carrier, or to protect the quarterback, in the pass, in the backfield hand-off to other backs, or when the quarterback attempts to run (rush) with the ball himself.

Blocking play is also a legal move in bridge, but whilst it can be a great move for declarer it is generally something to be avoided by the defenders.

(You may recall an excellent series of books by Terence Reese and Roger Trezel, one of which was entitled Blocking, Unblocking and Safety Plays in Bridge.)

This combination came up in the Senior KO:

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

Defending a notrump contract if you start this suit by leading the seven or two and the first trick is completed by the ten, jack and ace, make sure the next time you lead from the North hand you play the nine. Otherwise, when declarer puts up the queen and South wins with the king you will be in the way.

This spectacular example of what might be the bridge equivalent of bridge hari-kari comes from the BAM Teams:

Dealer: North

Vul: None

A K 8 7
10 4
K J 9 5
K 8 5
West East
Q 3 2 J 10 6
K 8 2 A Q J 9 6
A 8 6 7 4
J 7 6 2 10 9 3
9 5 4
7 5 3
Q 10 3 2
A Q 4
West North East South
1 Pass 1NT
Pass 2NT All Pass

South’s tactical move in the bidding did not appear to have turned out too well when West produced the two of hearts at trick one. A delighted East decided to put up the ace, and continued with the queen. When West failed to overtake the heart suit was fatally blocked.

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