BBO Survivor: Complicated 6NT
(Page of 4)

North
K107
AKQ96
A9
753
South
AQ32
53
K76
AK84
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
4NT
P
6NT
P
P
P

BBO is running a 2-day survivor tournament at total points scoring. This was hand 11. It reminds me of a "Test Your Play" in the Bridge World. I'll admit I failed (although I did make the cut).

My robot partner transfers to hearts and then issues a quantitative invite. I shrug my shoulders and say, "What the hell." (On the first three boards, I played a slam in game, a slam in a partscore, and then tried for slam and stayed out lacking two keys. So I was feeling a little frustrated, slam-wise.)

Opening lead: queen of clubs. My RHO plays the 9 as I win with the king, then pause to take stock.

I have 10 top tricks. If hearts are 3-3 then I have 12. If hearts are 4-2, then I have 11, and might be able to get a twelfth in spades, plus there are lots of potential squeeze positions. (Imagine that West is 2=2=5=4 and East is 4=4=3=2: after I give up a heart there will be a double squeeze around diamonds.)

Well, the first thing to do is play hearts. 5-7-A-2, K-4-3-8.

That's a blow. I have only three heart tricks, which means I'm going to have to get the spades right to have even 11 tricks, and a lot of possible squeezes have just been eliminated.

So I play on spades, in order to find out what the position is there, and maybe get an idea of what position to play for. Since hearts are 1=5, West (who evidently has the club length) might have spade length, in which case I might be able to squeeze East between the red suits; the W-E distribution might be 5=1=2=5 - 1=5=6=1, or 4=1=3=5 - 2=5=4=2 with East having the only diamond guard. I decide to finesse in spades. Low to the ace, then back towards the KT.

Well, the finesse is right, but the spade length is with East...the J pops on the second round, and West pitches a diamond on the third. (The J popping second wasn't proof that spades weren't 3-3: when you're playing against GIB, it "knows" you will finesse, so it considers its honor to be equivalent to a low card, and plays randomly. Which means that if you aren't watching, you might take the finesse...only to find that you've just ducked the trick! Anyone who plays robot tourneys regularly and says they haven't been caught that way more than once is either a lot more careful than me or a liar.)

Okay: East is 4=5 in the majors. I conjecture that the shapes were 2=1=5=5 - 4=5=3=1.

Here's what the deal looks like now given those shapes.

West
J54
J1062
North
Q96
A9
75
East
9
J108
Q103
South
Q
K76
K84
D
1

At the time, all I could think of was that West's length in the minors was over my long-suit threats. It seemed like that precluded any minor-suit squeeze, and I went down one.

In fact I was wrong about that: I could play for an automatic squeeze, with North's low club as a threat. Rectify the count by playing a low heart, pitching a club. If East now exits a major, I can (in some order) cash my CK and my major suit queens, pitching a heart from dummy and a club from hand, leaving West squeezed between the minors. Unfortunately, East when in can break up the squeeze with a diamond exit, leaving me without enough transportation to do everything.

But there was still a way to recover. I failed to properly notice, appreciate, and remember that 9 that East played at trick 1. I could have won by combining a strip-squeeze and a Dentist's Coup: Q discarding a diamond from hand, diamond to the K, Q. If West comes down to two clubs, I can simply duck a club to establish a long club as my 12th winner, so West must keep three clubs and a diamond. But now a diamond to the ace extracts his only exit card, so I run the 7 and West is endplayed.

The actual deal was slightly different from what I thought. The shapes were really 2=1=6=4 - 4=5=2=2. Let's look at a couple of double-dummy lines.

West
J6
7
J85432
QJ106
North
K107
AKQ96
A9
753
East
9854
J10842
Q10
92
South
AQ32
53
K76
AK84
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
4NT
P
6NT
P
P
P
D
1
6NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
3
2
A
3
1
0
3
7
A
2
1
2
0
K
4
5
8
1
3
0
3

(Click "Next" for the first three tricks.)

In this line, East has held on to its 9, which means that the fun strip-squeeze isn't available. At this juncture, the only winning line at double-dummy, is to duck a heart now, while the spade position is still flexible, pitching a club from hand. If East exits a non-diamond, you can play for the same automatic squeeze from the previous page. If East does exit a diamond, you do this:

West
J6
7
J85432
QJ106
North
K107
AKQ96
A9
753
East
9854
J10842
Q10
92
South
AQ32
53
K76
AK84
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
4NT
P
6NT
P
P
P
D
1
6NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
3
2
A
3
1
0
3
7
A
2
1
2
0
K
4
5
8
1
3
0
6
8
4
2
2
3
1
10
K
3
9
3
4
1
2
6
10
4
1
5
1
K
5
3
J
1
6
1
Q
10
8
6
1
7
1
7
8
Q
4
3
8
1
9

Finessing the T on the first round is a lot easier when it's double-dummy, isn't it? Now you cash the SA, pitching the 9, with a nice little criss-cross squeeze.

So then if someone asks "declare or defend?" we pick declare? Is 6NT cold?

Nope. It turns out that the killing lead is to avoid the attractive sequence in clubs, and instead underlead the diamond jack. On that lead, the defense hasn't compromised its club position, so no strip-squeeze; and it turns out to have the same transportation-removing effects that it did in the automatic variant. When we duck a heart to rectify the count, East returns another diamond, and the entry situation is now hopeless.