In bridge, an endplay forces a defender to lead away from a disadvantageous holding. It is also known as a strip-and-endplay, elimination play, or "throw-in" play. The most common example involves a defender being forced to lead into a tenace:

Dummy
AQ
2
West--East
98--K5
3A
--South--
--ST4--
H6
D--
C--


South is on lead and needs two more tricks. If he takes the spade finesse (or cashes the ace and leads the queen), East will win the king and cash the heart ace. Instead, declarer should "endplay" East by leading a heart. Upon winning the ace, East is forced to lead away from his SK and must concede two spade tricks.


Examples

Dummy
AQ94
873
WestJT5East
876A65KJ32
94KQJ652
64Declarer3
Q98732ST5JT
HAT
DAKQ9872
CK4

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
North

2S
4D

East
1H
Pass
Pass

South
Dbl
3D
6D


North-South manage to bypass 3NT and reach the small slam in diamonds. West's opening lead is the H9, won by South. Two rounds of diamonds draw the missing turmps.

Given East's opening bid, South should realize that the spade finesse will probably fail. The good news is that West's H9 suggests a doubleton, so East can possibly be thrown in with a heart later. Accordingly, South eliminates clubs by playing three rounds (ruffing the third in hand). After seeing East show out on the third round, South knows that East's original distribution was either 4-6-1-2 or 3-7-1-2.

Next, South rattles off his remaining trumps. On the last diamond, the situation is:

Dummy
AQ9
8
West--East
876--KJ
4KQ
--Declarer--
--ST5--
HT
D2
C--


When South leads the D2, East discards the HQ. South then plays the HT to endplay East for the 12th trick.


An endplay can also force a defender to concede a ruff and sluff, as in the following hand.

Dummy
KQJ5
QJ2
WestAJ5East
4T8772
983AK76
Q8743DeclarerKT96
KJ62SAT9863543
HT54
D2
CAQ9


South reaches 4. West tries the lead of the H9. This is won by East, who takes the top two hearts and plays a third round to dummy's queen.

South might draw trumps and attempt two club finesses, bemoaning his luck when West produces both the king and jack. However, a better line is available. At trick 4, South cashes the DA and ruffs a diamond. Next, a spade is led to dummy and another diamond ruffed. At this point, the hands are:

Dummy
QJ5
--
West--East
--T877
--6
Q8DeclarerK
KJ62SAT9543
H--
D--
CAQ9


Now South crosses to dummy's SQ, drawing the last outstanding trump. The CT is then floated around to West's CJ. West is now endplayed in the minor suits. A club return gives South two club tricks, while a diamond return allows South to ruff in either hand and discard a club loser.


Notable Quotes

Helen Sobel Smith, perhaps the greatest woman player ever, had this to say about her first endplay:

"I think that bridge really got into my blood a certain day in the thirties when a world-shattering incident occurred:

"I was declarer in a 6S contract, doubled by my right hand opponent. He had actually turned up with the QJT of trumps - I had cashed the ace and king - and I was disconsolately sure that he would turn up with the king of hearts, over dummy's ace-queen.

"Simply to delay the awful end as long as possible, I gathered in my tricks in diamonds; then (hoping my partner would not be too disagreeable about my slam bid), I was just about to take the necessary heart finesse when the Vision Appeared!

"I led a trump. East was 'in', and his forced heart return, to dummy's tenace, made me tingle with delight and self-appreciation.

"That, so far I was concerned was the Birth of the End Play (perhaps it's needless to say I hadn't been playing bridge very long)." 1

References

1 Sobel, Helen (1950). Winning Bridge.

See also

  • Crocodile Coup
    A defensive play that prevents one's partner from being endplayed.

  • Unblocking Play
    The play of an unusually high card to a trick, in order to maintain communication with dummy.

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