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A Little Too High

North Deals
None Vul
Matchpoints
From: OKbridge
A Q
10 7
A 7 6 5 3 2
A 10 9
 
K 10 9 8 5 2
K Q 6 2
10
K 6

North opened a slightly odd strong notrump, and South made a few too many slam tries, finally landing in 5 contract.
West found the good lead of a spade. Declarer won in dummy, and led a heart to the king. If the A was onside, declarer would have only two heart losers. Sadly, West won and continued spades, East following.
Declarer won and cashed the A and ruffed a diamond, East playing the king. After drawing the last trump, declarer ducked a heart at this position (pitching a diamond from dummy:)
7 6 5 3
A 10 9
 
10 9
Q 6 2
K 6
West won and returned a diamond, East pitching a heart, and declarer ruffing. Declarer then cashed the Q (pitching a diamond from dummy). If East started with four or more hearts, the position would be something like:
7
A 10 9
Q
Q x x
 
9
J x x
10
6
K 6
On the 10, West can not part with a diamond, so he must part with a club. Declarer pitches the diamond from dummy, and East is now caught in the squeeze, forced to part with either a heart, setting up the heart in declarers hand, or a club.
As it was, West showed out on the third round of hearts, having started with A-J tight. Declarer could have claimed on learning that West was guarding the diamonds and East the hearts.
Was there any better defense?
The full hand was:
A Q
10 7
A 7 6 5 3 2
A 10 9
7 6
A J
Q J 9 8
Q J 5 4 2
 
J 4 3
9 8 5 4 3
K 4
8 7 3
K 10 9 8 5 2
K Q 6 2
10
K 6
West couldn't duck the heart, because he was holding the A-J. If he had played the jack, declarer's ten in dummy would have become a useful card, and again declarer would have lost only two heart tricks. Could West have broken up the squeeze? I don't see an obvious way.
As you can see, the clubs are both in West's hand. Technically, East was never squeezed as the cards lie. The club situation keeps West from ever leading clubs. If East had both clubs, West could lead clubs every time. The spade lead was necessary to keep declarer from ruffing out his diamonds - two of his entries to dummy are in spades, but to be useful for setting up diamonds, they needed to be used after the diamonds ace entry had been used.
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Thomas Andrews (bridge@thomasoandrews.com), © 1995-2009.
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