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A Tactical Squeeze

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

West's opening led was a club, won in dummy with the jack, East pitching a diamond. A spade was led from dummy, finessing the ten, and two more spades were played, West pitching a club. A diamond was led toward the queen, West ducked, leading to this position:
8 5 4 2
10 7
K 9
A 10
Q 9 8 4
J 10 7 6 3
J 9 6
K 7
A K 6
At this point, declare could count nine tricks: four spades, one heart, one diamond, and three clubs. If declarer could read through the backs of cards, he could have found an overtrick by playing the A-Q, forcing West to concede an extra trick in whichever minor he exited.
But South didn't need psychic skills - on the lead of the spade, West was tactically squeezed.
Pitching the 10 would give up two overtricks tricks; declarer could duck a diamond to West's ace, and West would be endplayed in clubs and hearts.
If West pitched the A, declare could still get a second overtrick by taking the top clubs and the diamond, and endplaying West in clubs. West gets two club tricks but must lead a heart.
A heart pitch also allows declarer two tricks. Declarer simply plays the A-Q, and West is again squeezed, in clubs and diamonds - he is endplayed in which ever suit he pitches.
If West parted with a club, declarer could play the top clubs, and endplay West with the last club, forcing West to give up a single overtrick in one of the red suits.
Okay, this isn't a proper squeeze - technically, the heart endplay was there initially - but it felt like a squeeze to West. It was, of course, difficult for South to read the position until West started sweating on the fourth round of spades. West eventually pitched his fourth club, and South promptly found the endplay. If West had been able to make a smooth diamond pitch, declarer still might find the overtrick by taking the top clubs and endplaying West in clubs:
8 5 4
K 9
J 10
J 9
K 7
On the last club, South must pitch a diamond. West gets his diamond ace but then must lead a heart.
If West pitches a heart on the last spade, declarer should find the right play of the A. West started with at most two hearts, and was probably 2-2-3-6 shape (if West was 2-3-2-6, his duck of the diamond was dangerous.) Declarer would play the A, not to drop the king, but to strip West of a heart exit card before endplaying him in clubs. When he actually drops the K, declarer will see the writing on the wall and find second overtrick by squeezing West with the Q.
Indeed, given that South had West's count in clubs and spades, and could anticipate that West had at least three diamonds, including the ace, perhaps declarer can find most of his options even if West managed to play smoothly to the last spade.
Why do I call this a "tactical squeeze?" Because, double-dummy, declarer could have made the overtrick without the squeeze. What the squeeze did was "show up" West for an endplay. The term "show up" squeeze is most often used for the following situation:
x x
K x
Declarer, in dummy, plays the A, and East is caught in a typical showup squeeze. Double-dummy, a heart pitch does not give declarer anything he did not already have. Declarer could always have finessed for the third trick. Most declarers do not play double dummy.
Similarly, the club pitch above didn't give declarer anything he did not have, double dummy, but it showed up the situation for the endplay.
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Thomas Andrews (bridge@thomasoandrews.com), © 1995-2009.
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