<< A Little Help from a Friend Interesting Bridge Hands A Shut-up Squeeze >>

Countless Squeezes

North Deals
None Vul
IMPs
From: OKbridge
9 6
K Q J 10 9 5
A 10 6
7 4
 
A K 5 4 3
A
K 8 2
K Q 6 5
West North East South
1 Pass 1
3 Pass Pass 4 NT
Pass 5 Pass 6 NT
All Pass

Opening lead: 8
I was playing 6 NT, a rather awkward slam. I won the heart with the ace and led the K, hoping to rectify the count and squeeze East in diamonds and spades. Annoyingly, West wouldn't help me; after a moment of thought, he ducked the K.
This put me in a pickle, and the line I chose at the time was basically to give up, taking my tricks and going home. I was a wimp, and got what I deserved.
There are actually a number of lines which give me a chance to make this contract.
For example, assume West has both diamond honors and at most two spades. Take the top spades, then play a diamond from hand, finessing if West doesn't split his honors. Assuming he does split the diamond honors, win in dummy, and run the hearts.
I am in this position:
K
10 6
4
Q x
A J
 
5
K 2
Q
On the last heart, I pitch the club Q. Assuming West had at least six clubs for his call, I know the count in that suit at the end. If he pitches down to one club, I endplay him in clubs and he is forced to lead a diamond, giving me two more tricks in the suit. If he pitches down to one diamond, I can drop his Q.
This line also works if West started with a stiff diamond honor and two or fewer spades, because East would be squeezed.
If West started with three or more spades and the Q-J, and I ascertain this somehow, there is still a squeeze on this line, but I have to be careful about him coming down to:
7
Q
A
 
at the end. Then when I try to endplay him in clubs, he can exit a spade. If I have reason to believe he is still holding a spade, I have to play for the diamond drop.
If West has four spades, there is a different squeeze available. After he ducks the club, I lead a low diamond to the ten. Assume that loses to East, and East continues a spade. I win, cash A-K and run the hearts.
On the last heart, we are at:
x
5
4
x x
A
 
A 5
Q
I pitch the Q and West must give up in one of the black suits.
Notice how the 4 becomes a threat card once I know East has no more clubs. West's bid has given me information which I would not otherwise be able to work out.
Of course, it seems unlikely that West has both diamond honors, and even more unlikely that West has four spades. Still, this second line brings to mind other options. Notice that even though the opponents have an ace outstanding, it is safe for me to rectify the count in another suit as long, as I can lose the trick to East, because he can't lead a club back. I might be able to later squeeze him in spades and diamonds.
Clearly, I need to lose a spade trick to East, because losing a diamond trick to him gives up my diamond threat. If he holds the Q-J-10, all I need to do is lead a low spade to the nine. His best exit is a diamond at this point - if he exits in a major suit, for instance, I don't even need East to hold the diamond guard. Instead, I execute a double squeeze.
I win his return, and cash the two top spades. Now I cross to the K and run the hearts, pitching clubs from my hand. When the last heart is played, the position is:
5
10
4
Q x
A
 
Q
J x
5
A x
East must pitch a diamond, or I score my 5. I pitch my spade, and West must pitch a diamond or I score the 4.
What if I play A then a low spade, to protect against a stiff queen, jack, or ten in West's hand? That seems to cause entry problems if South exits a high diamond. I win the diamond in dummy and run the hearts, to this four-card end position:
5
10 x
4
x x
A J
 
Q J
J x
A 5
A x
On the last heart, I need to guess what shape East has pitched down to. East might fool me by pitching down to:
 
Q J 7
J
and yielding the J on the last heart.
So are there any other options? What about a squeeze without rectifying the count? Assume East is guarding both diamonds and spades. After West ducks the club, I simply cross to the K and run the hearts:
9 6
5
10 6
4
10 x
x x
A J
 
Q J x x
Q J
A K 5 4
A 8
On the last heart, if East pitches a diamond, I get another diamond, and if East pitches a spade, I pitch a diamond, and play three rounds of spades, setting up the fourth. When East is in, he has to lead a diamond to the ace and my good spade is my twelfth trick. A good East will put me to a guess at the end. For example, he might unguard the spades, pitching down to three early, and then, on the last heart, pitch the J from:
 
Q J 10
Q J 9
But if West can find the club duck and East can find such a deceptive sequence of pitches, perhaps I should concede the hand to their superior skill.
For a hand I gave up on, there certainly were quite a few options.
<< A Little Help from a Friend
Thomas Andrews (bridge@thomasoandrews.com), © 1995-2009.
A Shut-up Squeeze >>
Article formatted with BridgeML.