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PLAY and DEFENCE for Improving Players

A squeeze you can perform.

You may have heard of this term “squeezing an opponent”. You may think it is something the “better players do”. Certainly, they do get extra tricks, make seemingly impossible contracts, by producing complicated squeezes, squeezes with complicated names. However, the concept of a simple squeeze (nothing complicated in that name!) can be understood by any player who has a grasp of playing a standard hand.

The basic idea for the most basic of squeezes is to cash your winning tricks. Playing in a trump contract, this can often be just playing off your winning trumps. You may have two suits threatening in one hand or one suit in each hand. You do have to know which cards to keep and which to throw from the other hand. You need to have an entry left to both hands or at least to the hand which does not have the trumps.  

Watch how a risky bid turned golden on the following hand.

Board 13
North Deals
Both Vul
4 3
K 8 7 4
A Q J 5
6 3 2
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
Q
A 9 5 2
4 3
A Q 8 7 5 4
West North East South
  Pass 3  4 
Pass 5  All pass  

 

Opposite a passed partner, South’s 4Club-small bid was risky. Double would have been equally risky as you would not enjoy a 4Diamond-small response while it seemed unlikely that a passed partner would take any action over 3Spade-small if South passed.

Similarly, North might have bid 4Diamond-small (to see if their partner could bid 4Heart-small) though 5Club-small was a sensible choice.

West led Spade-smallK and a second spade. It seemed that there was to be a heart loser and thus your contract needed a very precise lay of the club suit along with a successful diamond finesse to succeed. Time to show partner how to take successful finesses!

So, you ruff the second spade and breathe one sigh of relief when a diamond to dummy’s queen wins the trick. Another sigh can be heard when your Club-smallQ scores the next trick, to be followed by the Club-smallA. The perfect lay of East holding Club-smallK9 had taken place. You are going to make your contract. Wonderful!

Yet, you are playing Pairs and every overtrick will count. It looks like those who bid 4Heart-small will make at least 620, probably 650 but there is no reason to give up and accept 600 just yet.

So, you can take a second successful diamond finesse and then run three more rounds of trumps. You have absolutely nothing to lose. After the second diamond finesse, these cards remain:

 
K 8 7 4
A 5
6
2
Q J 3
K 9 7
 
N
W   E
S
 
A J 10 9 8
10 6
 
A 9 5 2
8 7 5

 

You play two rounds of clubs on which East throws two spades while you throw a useless low heart from dummy. What about West? If West did a piece of counting, they would know their partner started with 7 spades (from the bidding), and two cards in each minor. (That information is available to South as well.) Therefore, they can only have two hearts and unless one of those hearts is the ace, (very unlikely as that gives the pre-emptor a 12 count and South an 8 count for their 4 level bid), then West has to guard the heart suit.

Anyway, no danger for West yet as they can throw their spade and a diamond.

However, South plays their last trump. If West throws a diamond, declarer can discard a second heart from dummy, play Heart-smallA cross to the Heart-smallK and cash Diamond-smallA bringing down the king and scores the Diamond-small5 as their 12TH trick for trick 13.

If West throws a heart, South discards a red card from dummy, crosses to dummy, can cash the Diamond-smallA if they wish, but with the hearts now 2-2, declarer’s two little hearts will both be winners.

You have just squeezed West out of a heart trick! That’s you, not a named top international. It feels pretty good, especially if you knew what you were doing!

champion today.png

While good defenders tend to know they are about to be squeezed, you can usually tell something good is happening for you as declarer when a defender slows down and struggles with their discards. In that case, don’t look surprised when you make an  extra trick. Pretend you knew what you were doing all along! Impress partner. No need for the fancy name for the squeeze. Just say you squeezed your opponent ….and pretend you knew just what you were doing! After a couple more goes, you will!

The full deal was:

Board 13
North Deals
Both Vul
4 3
K 8 7 4
A Q J 5
6 3 2
K 6 2
Q J 3
K 9 7 6 2
J 10
 
N
W   E
S
 
A J 10 9 8 7 5
10 6
10 8
K 9
 
Q
A 9 5 2
4 3
A Q 8 7 5 4
West North East South
  Pass 3  4 
Pass 5  All pass  

 

+620 turned out to be quite a good score after all.

Richard Solomon

 

 

 

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