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Double? Which double?
(Page of 4)

At the recent New Zealand National Bridge Congress, the Coutts team (James Coutts, Nick Jacob, Michael Courtney, Rose Don, Liam Milne and Tony Nunn) won all 10 qualifying matches to lead the field going into the KOs, and then won the 4 KO matches to take the title. They gave their friends and fans a bit of a fright in the semi when they lost each of the first 3 sets small, but they ran a tough 45-3 over the last 12 board set to end up with a comfortable win.

I tuned in on BBO halfway through the 5 set (out of 6) of the final just in time to catch this fascinating hand with Liam Milne South, and Tony Nunn North.

North
A987
AK54
86
A65
South
K5
J6
AKQ954
K98
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
2NT
P
3
P
3NT
P
6NT
P
P
P

On the J lead, there are a lot of possibilities. Obviously 6NT is dead easy if 's are 3-2. You could safety play the 's to guard against a 5-0 break but if they were 3-2 all along, you'll have to figure out a squeeze ending to get back to the 2 top tricks you had at the start, so that doesn't look like a great plan.

How would you proceed?

Liam went middle. He elected to win A, partly to preserve entry fluidity, and partly to pull 8 just in case East made the tired mistake of covering.

West
North
A987
AK54
86
A65
East
South
K5
J6
AKQ954
K98
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
1
P
2N
P
3
P
3N
P
6N
P
P
P
D
6NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
J
A
3
8
1
1
0
8
3
A
2
3
2
0
K
2
6
7
3
3
0
Q
2
7
10
3
4
0
9
3
4
J
2
4
1
4
K
10
5
3
5
1
5
2
6
7
3
6
1
7

East isn't that silly of course, so Liam cleared 's as West pitched --. East returned a , which Liam won, noting the fall of the 10.

Clearly East held the Q and the only guard, so Liam could easily cash the 5th , throwing the last from the board, and then take stock.

There are possible simple and double squeezes floating round (and in an earlier variation even a guard squeeze). Who do you squeeze how now?

Liam was very confident West had started with 5, given his stiff and apparent 3 card holding. Accordingly, Liam cashed AK to kill East's idle cards, crossed back to hand with the K and plonked the last on the table to execute the double squeeze on 's

West
QJ6
Q108
North
A98
AK5
East
1043
97
Q
South
K5
J6
4
9
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
1
P
2N
P
3
P
3N
P
6N
P
P
P
D
6NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
8
A
7
6
1
1
0
K
9
J
Q
1
2
0
8
3
K
6
3
3
0
4
4

It's easy to criticize West's defence but remember that it's a pressure situation after a week of typical Kiwi "Ironman" bridge (as I understand it, the first two KO days were 72 boards each, behind screens from the semis). Pitching the "lazy 5th" first wasn't best, and pitching a was an error. You're clearly going to have to pitch at least one , so that should go first, and you have to assume partner has help in 's or you're completely dead, so you should just do the regular thing and pitch the threat on your left (ie ultimately ditch your guard). 

In the other room, Michael Courtney started a , and finished grimly clutching his and guards, thereby defeating 6NT.

Well done to Liam for accurate card-reading and Michael for accurate defence, combining to pick up 17 imps for their team on the way to a solid and well-deserved win.

[PS. I know the 1st trick on this page is out of order; If someone can explain to me how to fix that I'll be happy to do so. The next page is just the full hand in case you prefer to look at it that way]

And the full hand ...

West
QJ62
Q10