In bridge, an avoidance play may be made when declarer needs to prevent a particular defender from gaining the lead. The following excerpt is from Ely Culbertson's "Contract Bridge Self-Teacher":

"Very often when you are playing a hand you will be anxious to keep one of your opponents out of the lead — either because he has established cards in some suit, which he can cash if he obtains the lead; or because he could lead through an honor in your hand toward a tenace in his partner's hand.

"When you must give up a trick in order to effect some suit-establishment play, you should try to lose the trick to the opponent who cannot make the lead that you fear. Two simple methods of keeping a dangerous opponent out of the lead are to choose the direction of your finesses properly, and to duck a trick to the other opponent. Example:

Dummy
K6
AQ8
AJT9

Declarer
A84
HKJ7
DK53
C

"The contract is notrump; no suit but clubs has been played. Suppose you know that East has several established clubs; but West has no club. Therefore, you lead a heart, which dummy wins with the Queen. Dummy now leads the D9, and you play the D3. Even if West has the Queen and wins the trick, he cannot lead a club.

"If West had the clubs, the diamond finesse would be taken through West.

"It is sometimes possible, as in the following situation, to shut either opponent out, at will:

AK943
Q65 JT2
H87

"A trick must be conceded before any long-suit winners can be established. If you wish to keep West out of the lead, you lead the H8 and duck in the North hand. If West plays the Queen on your lead of the H8, you can of course take the trick with the King and now only East can win the next round of the suit.

"If it is East you wish to keep from leading, you lead the H8 as before; if West plays low, you take the King, and, returning to the South hand in another suit, lead another heart. If West again plays low, the Ace is played from the North hand and a low heart led, throwing West into the lead. If West plays the Queen on either the first or the second lead, the North hand simply plays low and allows West to win the trick. East can never get the lead."

See also