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A Familiar Combination

East Deals
Both Vul
IMPs
From: OKbridge
A 10 7 3
10 8 2
A J 3
K J 5
J 9 8 5
7 4
K 9 2
Q 8 7 4
 
Q 2
J 3
10 8 7 4
A 9 6 3 2
K 6 4
A K Q 9 6 5
Q 6 5
10

Out of the 39 tables that played this hand, 12 North/South pairs bid to 6 , and of those, nine made. (Another two pairs ended up in 6 NT, making.) Six hearts is not a slam I'd want to bid.
The unfortunate pair I watched played in the more reasonable 4 contract. While dummy joined us in spectator mode, we commiserated, and one of the other spectators said, "Six hearts doesn't make without help from the defense." While most who made 6 seemed to have some defensive help, dummy and I disagreed.
Any long-time reader of these web pages will spot the ubiquitous A-J-x opposite Q-x-x combination. A good start.
Assume a trump lead. Declarer draws trumps in two rounds, and ducks the 10 to East's ace. East is stuck for a decent exit, but, in fact, his best exit is a diamond. Declarer wins dummy's jack, pitches a spade on the K, and the plays three rounds of spades, ruffing the third round, declarer runs trumps, leaving this end position at the second to last trump:
7
A 3
J
J
K 9
Q
 
6 5
Q 6
West must either pitch his top spade, his top club, or unguard his K. This squeeze operates a trick early because West is guarding three suits. West can delay the squeeze one trick later by covering the 10 with the queen at trick three, but he cannot avoid being squeezed in diamonds and spades.
<< A Double Whammy
Thomas Andrews (bridge@thomasoandrews.com), © 1995-2009.
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