An Information Squeeze
(Page of 4)

This hand, from the Round Robin, generated an interesting discussion:

West
North
J4
KQJ9
QJ3
Q876
East
South
A85
106
K962
AK103
W
N
E
S
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
4
2
5
0
0
1
Q
J
6
8
0
0
2
3
6
9
A
3
1
2
10
4
9
2
3
2
2
6
5
J
3
1
3
2
5

As many pointed out, there is an easy, 100% line, assuming that spades are 5-3, but West has neither ace.

I wondered, can the contract be guaranteed if South does not hold the diamond nine?

So, let's change one spot card, and try this one again:

West
North
J4
KQJ9
QJ3
Q876
East
South
A85
106
K642
AK103
W
N
E
S
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
4
2
5
0
0
1
Q
J
6
8
0
0
2
3
6
9
A
3
1
2
10
4
9
2
3
2
2
6
5
J
3
1
3
2
5

Is the contract now 100%?

Obviously, if we continue hearts, and East started with five hearts, we are down.  We can go after diamonds instead, now, and make nine easy tricks if the clubs run.  But, if they don't, we end up a trick short.  OK, suppose we test clubs, and force a discard from East?

Let's say that this is the full hand:

West
KQ1073
54
85
J952
North
J4
KQJ9
QJ3
Q876
East
962
A8732
A1097
4
South
A85
106
K642
AK103
W
N
E
S
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
4
2
5
0
0
1
Q
J
6
8
0
0
2
3
6
9
A
3
1
2
10
4
9
2
3
2
2
6
5
J
3
1
3
2
7
4
K
2
3
4
2
3
5
Q
7

East is squeezed.  A heart discard lets us set up hearts safely, while a diamond discard lets us turn to diamonds.  Unfortunately, if we turn to diamonds, and East was 3-4-5-1, we have gone down.

No, that doesn't work.  To make the contract unambiguously, when East was 3-4-5-1, we need to play the club ace, king, then queen, and force two discards.  But that line would fail spectacularly, when East started with J-fourth in clubs.

Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee our contract, at this stage.  Playing that second heart was a mistake.

Let's back up the play one trick:

West
North
J4
KQJ9
QJ3
Q876
East
South
A85
106
K642
AK103
W
N
E
S
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
4
2
5
0
0
1
Q
J
6
8
0
0
2
3
6
9
A
3
1
2
10
4
9
2
3
2
2
4

After only one round of hearts, we should test clubs.  No problems if the clubs will run.  If not, we play off three rounds of clubs and force two discards from East.  Now a heart to dummy, which must be ducked.

This is the ending:

North
KQ
QJ3
South
K642
10

Is the contract now 100%?

If East started with six or seven hearts, we will know the count, and know which suit to play next.  If East started with four or five hearts, but discarded a heart, then we safely continue hearts.  So East must have discarded two diamonds on the clubs, and we can happily go after diamonds.  Right?

Nope!  We are almost at 100%, but, this might be the layout:

West
KQ1073
8754
J952
North
J4
KQJ9
QJ3
Q876
East
962
A32
A109875
4
South
A85
106
K642
AK103
W
N
E
S
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
4
2
5
0
0
1
Q
J
6
8
0
0
2
3
6
9
A
3
1
2
10
4
9
2
3
2
2
A
2
7
4
3
3
2
3
5
Q
5
1
4
2
8
7
K
9
3
5
2
6
5
J
3
1
6
2
Q
A
9

If East started with all six diamonds, East will win the diamond and establish the suit.

Once again, that second heart was a mistake.  After the two diamond discards, we should play a diamond to the queen.  If this loses, we can win the next diamond in hand, and clear hearts, so the diamond must win.  Finally, play a high heart, which will hold.  So, the ending is now this:

North
KQ
J3
South
K64
10

Now, of course, we have seen West's play to two hearts, and one diamond, so we will know if East started with six hearts, or with six diamonds.  If West has followed to both hearts, and to the diamond, the we have no problems.  Either East threw a heart, and we play hearts, or East threw two diamonds, and the diamond suit is now safe.

100%!