Ted's Bridge World Dante's Infernal

Collaboration Squeezes II

The first two deals appeared in the first qualifying session of the All-Western Championship at the Santa Clara Regional.  This was Board #18:

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Contract: 3NT
Opening Lead: 7


The spade lead was taken in dummy, followed by two finesses in diamonds.  Declarer then finessed the heart ten, taken by the ace.  The spade return was won by the ace, and the heart king was cashed, declarer discarding a club.  Then the run of the spades and diamonds squeezed west in hearts and clubs.  Making six.

I appreciate that the winning defense was not easy; nevertheless, it was there.  East could have saved a trick by playing low on the heart lead!  Now, west would have an extra card in his hand, and no pressure could be brought to bear.  Conversely, had the opening lead been a club, it would have been all right for east to take the first heart lead, provided only that he returned the club queen.  That would have killed the communications for a squeeze.

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Contract: 3
Opening lead: J


South opened 3 in fourth position, ending the auction.  East grabbed the first diamond trick with the ace.  A club return (and subsequent club ruff) would have scuttled the contract, but our guy — apparently unwilling to play partner for the club ace — returned the diamond five.  Winning the king, declarer led the heart jack.  West could still have held south to his contract by arranging for the defense to win its four aces, but he ducked the heart lead.

Now it was declarer's turn.  At double-dummy, he could have secured an overtrick by overtaking the heart and ruffing a small red card; however, he reasonably let the heart jack hold.  Trumps were led next, east taking the ace on the second round; now, the only lead to hold the losses is the trump, but it was east's turn to fall from grace (again), and fall he did.  His play of the diamond queen set up a most unusual scenario, as declarer ruffed the diamond and cashed two more spades, to this position:

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The next trump lead squeezed west in three suits, without the count!  Being forced to guard both red suits, the eight of clubs was relinquished; dummy threw a red card, although a low club would have been okay as well.  Now a club to the king and a club back earned declarer his valuable overtrick and a tie for top on the board.

For east not to return a club at trick two arguably was forgivable; it rated to pickle partner's club holding, and declarer's hand was a virtual unknown.  However, parting with his control of the diamond suit was a no-win play.  Had he later exited with his remaining trump, partner would not have been forced to keep the high diamond, and declarer would have been held to his contract.

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An interesting defensive point arose in this offering from the Chico Unit's Pillsbury Teams:

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Contract: 6
Opening lead: J


The bidding was straightforward, albeit flawed: 1-3-6.  West started the ball rolling with a non-percentage, yet non-fatal opening lead.  My lovely partner won with the heart queen, drew trumps, and led the king of diamonds.

East, apparently fearful that the king was singleton, grabbed the ace and returned a heart.  Declarer cashed the diamond queen and another spade, leaving this position:

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Partner, bless her heart — after years of being coached to "Lead the last trump!  Lead the last trump!" finally did so, discarding the heart from dummy, and east was squeezed in the minors.  Six spades bid and made; yet, despite the disastrous opening lead, the contract could still have been defeated.  Do you see how?

A simple suit-length signal in diamonds by west would dispel any notion of a singleton in declarer's hand.  In any event, east must play low on the first diamond lead.  Needing to rectify the count, declarer would play her other diamond; now, east could win and lead the diamond jack, killing dummy's threat card in that suit.

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Finally, there was this gem from the Saturday Pairs at Dante's Infernal — another exercise in folly:

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Contract: 6
Opening lead: 2


North opened 1NT; South transferred to hearts, bid diamonds twice, then tried to sign off.  North, however, inexplicably refusing to support hearts, placed the contract in the diamond slam.

East grabbed the opening club lead with the ace and returned the club four.  West, presumably thinking about the evening dinner menu, covered south's club nine with the ten!

That was all that declarer needed.  Winning the club jack, he cashed dummy's diamonds, then ruffed a club and played off the diamond king, to this end-position:

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When declarer drew west's last trump, discarding a heart, east was squeezed out of her spade guard.  Then the lead of the two top hearts squeezed west in spades and clubs.  Making six!

Yes, the squeeze technically was unnecessary; with the spade suit splitting 4-4, declarer could have arranged simply to cash four spade tricks before returning to hand to draw the trumps.  But that play would have countermanded Ted's Law #3 of declarer play:

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