Ted's Bridge World Dante's Infernal

Collaboration Squeezes III

Playing in the Wednesday day game, this opportunity arose on the last round of the session:


Contract: 4
Opening Lead: 9

With no opposing bidding, declarer won the club lead with the king, drew trumps as west discarded a club, then led a diamond to the ten.  East took the trick and switched to the 9.  That imprudent choice could not possibly benefit the defenders, but it was not fatal in this case.

South covered the heart lead with the jack, capturing west's queen with dummy's ace.  Another diamond was led; east grabbed the trick and continued diamonds — a play that was fatal to the defense in an unusual way.  Declarer ruffed the diamond and played off the last trump in this position:


West was caught in a non-material squeeze without the count!  A heart discard would allow declarer to set up the game-going trick in that suit while maintaining his club control.  West, therefore, discarded one of his remaining clubs.  Although that card had no material value, it did relinquish the only safe exit-card.  South now cashed the A, then elegantly led the 8, discarding dummy's six-spot.  After winning the 10, west was forced to lead from his 7-4 into the jaws of the K-5.  Contract fulfilled.

So what went wrong?  A second club lead at any time would have killed the endplay.  This would be the position had east taken the second diamond and advanced the Q.


Declarer can cash a high spade as west discards a club.  But if he now leads the last trump, LHO prevails by discarding a low heart!  As south no longer controls the club suit, west's 9 is now a cashable winner.

Moral of the story: return partner's suit!


This one is from the Friday pairs at the Sacramento Spring Sectional.


Contract: 3NT
Opening Lead: H6

After showing 22-24 hcp in the bidding, south declared a seemingly mundane contract, wherein everyone should take precisely eleven tricks.  But our declarer had other ideas.  Envisioning a useful end-position, he won the first trick with the A, then played A, a club to the queen, then called for the jack of spades.

The idea was to try to get LHO to win the spade trick, it being more difficult for that hand to attack diamonds.  However, RHO grabbed the A.  At this juncture, a simple count of the points would have revealed that west could not possibly hold a high heart as well as any semblance of an entry; therefore, a heart continuation was futile, and east might as well have cashed her other spade winner and gone home.  It so happens that a diamond switch would have worked just as well; but she woodenly returned her remaining heart, setting the stage of declarer's foresight.

Winning the Q, he ran all the clubs, discarding a spade from hand, to this position:


Now the lead of the K squeezed east in spades and diamonds.  The "impossible" extra trick had earned a top on the board.

Note:  On a double-dummy basis, with one hand having both spade honors and only a doubleton heart, declarer need not have given east a chance to cash out.  Had he immediately played off the eight winners in clubs and hearts, east would have been squeezed "without the count."  She would have been unable to hold on to four diamonds and both spade honors.


This beautiful finale is from the Tuesday Evening STAC Pairs on May 3.


Opening Lead: 98

That is no misprint.  West, perhaps being overly anxious not to lead the suit that partner had bid at the 3-level vulnerable, faced two cards to begin the play.  This "foresight" was rewarded when his partner ruffed the first trick.  Perhaps there is something to the First Commandment of Play after all!  (see Dante #1)

East was equally unconscious on the deal.  A preempt at either of his first two turns would have made life more difficult for the opponents.  Moreover, at trick two he should have returned a club on the assumption that his partner was void, but no — he produced the 4 instead, handing declarer all the help necessary to take the rest of the tricks.  Do you see how?

It so happens that, on a double-dummy basis, declarer always can win twelve tricks by taking a deep finesse of the 6 on the first trump lead.  Thereafter, four diamonds, two side aces, four trumps in dummy, a heart ruff low and a heart ruff high in hand, will produce enough winners.  Of course, declarer has no reason to play spades that way, so it was indeed fortunate that the opponents, by their refusal to lead clubs at any time, collaborated to enable declarer to generate a winning line without any magical guessing.

Declarer laid down the K, learning that LHO started with four trumps together with his six diamonds.  The east player, unconscious or not, does have over 9,000 masterpoints; so it was reasonable to expect that, had he held KQ or KQ, he surely would have led one of those cards.  On that assumption, west must still have had one high honor in each of those suits, marking him with a 4-2-6-1 pattern, and declarer could spread his hand and claim the remainder.  However, he opted to play it out as follows:

The K was cashed, followed by a spade to the ten and three more high diamonds, discarding hearts from hand.  Now a heart ruff and another spade finesse left this pretty ending:


The remaining trump was drawn with the A, as south parted with the 3.  East, having a choice of which deuce declarer would enjoy, opted for a club discard, whereupon the Q and K fell together.  Making six.  What fun!

These Collaboration Squeezes have become so prevalent that I am considering awarding them a special category.  They already have a special place in my heart!

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