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A Three-suited Squeeze

South Deals
Both Vul
Matchpoints
From: OKbridge
7 4
10 7 3
K Q 10 8 5 4
10 4
J 9 2
A 9 8
J 7 6
K Q 7 2
 
K Q 10 6 3
Q J 4
9 2
9 8 5
A 8 5
K 6 5 2
A 3
A J 6 3
South West North East
1 NT Pass 3 NT All Pass

North's 3 NT was a matchpoint stab - a good tactical bid. Partner might be able to rattle off nine tricks when he gets in, and a slower auction might let the opponents find the right lead.
West led the 2, and declarer, Jacques Carel (wert on OKbridge) played low from dummy, and East inexplicably played the 5, letting Jacques win the 6 in hand. East's play, while bad, doesn't seem to obviously give up any tricks.
Jacques then ran six diamonds, pitching two spade and two hearts. West pitched a heart and a spade, but on the last diamond has a problem:
7 4
10 7 3
5
10
J 9
A 9
K Q 7
 
K Q 6 3
Q J 4
A 8
K 6
A J 3
East and Jacques both pitched spades, and West was squeezed in three suits.
If West pitched a heart, Jacques could duck a heart to West's stiff ace.
If West pitched a club, Jacques could play ace and a club, setting up the J while still holding an entry.
In reality, West pitched a spade, Jacques played the two black aces, then threw in West with a club, forcing him to give up a heart trick at the end.
What happens if East plays the 8. Does that set the contract?
7 4
10 7 3
5
10
J 9
A 9
K Q 7
 
K Q
Q J 4
9 5
A 8
K 6
A 6 3
This would be the end-position if East had played the 8 at the first trick. East has to keep two clubs to keep West from being squeezed. On the last diamond, East pitches a heart, Jacques pitches a spade, and West can pitch a spade. Now Jacques ducks the 10 to West's K, wins the spade or club return, cashes the other black ace and exits a low club.
So the misplay did not cost East anything.
Okay, an overtrick here isn't worth much - only 13% more. Bidding and making 3 NT was good enough to get a majority of the matchpoints. Still, the spade pitch West chose (partly because partner echoed in his spade pitches) was actually the pitch that made it easiest for Jacques to make the overtrick without risk. If West had pitched a heart, it would have required an iron will for Jacques to duck a heart. Jacques, who showed me this hand, claimed he'd figured out the position, but it's certainly better to make him work for it.
<< Take Care What You Ask For...
Thomas Andrews (bridge@thomasoandrews.com), © 1995-2009.
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