"Unblocking" is the play of an unusually high card to a trick. The purpose is to maintain communication between declarer and dummy.

Dummy
AKQ43
WestEast
J95 T
South
S8762


In this layout, South is on lead and needs all 5 tricks. Assuming that there are no additional entries to dummy, South must play the S8-7-6 on the first three rounds of spades. If South starts out by leading the S2 to dummy, he will be forced to win the fourth round of spades in his own hand, thereby blocking the suit.

An unblocking play may also be necessary when the defense is on lead:

Dummy
52
AT2
West--East
K7--Q63
J73K8
--South--
--SA94--
HQ5
D--
C--


In this five-card ending, West leads the H3 to East's king. If South unblocks the HQ, he can win East's spade return and then finesse in hearts for two tricks.


Example

Dummy
7432
6
WestAT9East
QT8KQJT9K9
75QJT9
K875SouthQ632
8763SAJ65A54
HAK8432
DJ4
C2


South declares 3NT. West leads the D5 (understandable, but not ideal for the defense). After East plays the DQ, South can count 8 tricks: 4 clubs, 1 diamond, 2 hearts, and 1 spade. The 9th may come from a diamond finesse if South unblocks at trick one.

Accordingly, South plays the DJ beneath East's DQ. When East returns the HQ, South wins and then leads a club to knock out East's ace. Now South can win any return and finesse in diamonds to make the contract.

See also

  • Endplay
    A play in which an opponent is forced on lead to concede an additional trick.

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