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2017 NAP-B report: breaking up squeezes
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In this article I review a few hands from the NAP-B involving breaking-up squeezes.

The first hand is board 23 from the first final:

We scored 22 out of 25 matchpoints for 4 making 6. Our Flannery auction hid my diamond strength which helped attract a favorable opening lead, and a missed opportunity by the opponents sealed their fate.

West
Q76
A8
K10974
Q106
North
AJ43
Q
AQJ62
K74
East
52
J10762
53
J853
South
K1098
K9543
8
A92
W
N
E
S
2
P
2NT
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 North
NS: 0 EW: 0

On the 5 lead (3rd and 5th) South played the K; I won, ruffed a diamond, played the K and finessed spades, winning.

Here, I erred by not playing a low heart which would create very good chances for making 7 and should be safe. Nevertheless:

I pulled trump and played the queen of hearts won by West reaching the critical position:

West
8
1097
Q106
North
4
QJ6
K74
East
J1076
J85
South
K954
A92
W
N
E
S
2
P
2NT
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 North
NS: 0 EW: 0

West must play clubs to break up the squeeze and looking at dummy the lead appears safe. He continued diamonds and now the double squeeze works with clubs as the pivot suit.

If west plays clubs in the critical position he has a heart discard available to avoid the squeeze and protect clubs.

On the next hand, I survived failing to break up a squeeze.

Hand 18 of the first final:

West
J6
K97
AQ82
AKQ10
North
KQ92
QJ852
1073
8
East
A10543
A64
KJ4
54
South
87
103
965
J97632
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
2NT
P
4
P
4
P
6NT
P
P
P
D
6NT East
NS: 0 EW: 0

T lead by my partner

Declarer wins in hand and plays two top clubs and then the J, covered with the King and ducked, leaving the critical position with me(North) on lead:

West
6
K9
AQ82
Q10
North
Q92
QJ85
107
East
A1054
64
KJ4
South
8
3
965
J976
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
2NT
P
4
P
4
P
6NT
P
P
P
D
6NT East
NS: 0 EW: 0

I must return a spade to break up the squeeze, but I erred by reflexively clearing the heart suit. Declarer took the spade finesse at which point I am marked with all the major suit cards necessary for the squeeze to have worked but NOW the timing is wrong: down 1. Declarer could have succeeded by running the minors at which point I'm squeezed AND declarer has the spade entry to pull it off.

On the next hand I broke up my own squeeze but survived.

Board 22 from the first semifinal:

West
Q102
J43
J986
KJ5
North
K4
Q76
754
109832
East
AJ93
AK92
AK
AQ6
South
8765
1085
Q1032
74
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
P
1
P
1
P
2N
P
3N
P
6N
P
P
P
D
6NT East
NS: 0 EW: 0

I "downgraded" to a 24-count to simplify the bidding since we're game-forced after 2NT anyway.

The opening 8 lead brought goood news. Now what's my plan to get a 12th trick?

Perhaps it's good technique to cash the spades, but I played A and a heart towards dummy's J which lost. Now a heart comes back and I'm forced to guess the heart suit and I no longer have red suit squeeze possibilities. Fortunately I guessed right.

I welcome suggestions for a plan, but at minimum I think I should lead toward the J on the first round to preserve a red suit squeeze. After the spade finesse works, this line wins when the Q is onside, when the hearts are 33, when the T is doubleton, when the Q is doubleton or when a defender holds both the protected Q and the protected T.

My decision to downgrade to a 24-count is questionable. Partner and I don't have alot of experience bidding 25-point balanced hands, and our system for handling them is a hair more complex, but I don't think it would have caused a problem. I really should be inviting with partner only promising a 6-count. On the positive side, once partner bids 3NT, we have favorable (non-symmetric) distribution and his black king(s) should be helpful. Essentially I made my decision to be in slam after his 1 response; maybe that's reasonable with my 10 controls and decent shape.

On the last hand I missed an opportunity by mis-identifying the gift the opponents presented me.

Board 10 of the second final session:

West
AJ5
KQ98
J2
J974
North
KQ92
J72
K10954
K
East
108
A53
A863
AQ53
South
7643
1064
Q7
10862
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT East
NS: 0 EW: 0

Should north slip in a 2 overcall?

South led the T, so I dutifully won a high heart in dummy and finessed the 8 - to be later disappointed that hearts were 3-3 after all. I led a low club from dummy happily eyeing the apparent stiff K. I now have 10 tricks and can look for number 11.

I tried the T and South played low without a hesitation, North winning his Q and returning a low diamond to the Q. South continued spades. We've reached the critical position, and I must determine which, if any, gift South has given me. The two possible gifts are a free spade finesse while I still have all the suits bottled up or a free major suit squeeze if North has the K and either KT9 of diamonds or any Kxxxx.

West
AJ
K9
J
J97
North
K92
J
K1095
East
8
A
A86
Q53
South
764
6
7
1086
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT East
NS: 0 EW: 0

Silly me chose the losing spade hook while the pointed squeeze works for 11 had I chose it (rise with the A and cash rounded winners ending in dummy).

630 was worth 50% of the matchpoints. 660 would have been worth 88% of the matchpoints. And, fwiw, because North holds both spade honors and south has Qx, 6NT is make-able by - AFAICT - cashing the rounded winners (discarding a spade from hand) and ducking a diamond.

Lesson: break up your squeezes, people.

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