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Friend or Faux?
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Unfortunately we qualified for the BCD Swiss Sunday from the first session of the NABC Swiss the day before.  This hand came up in round 5 with an interesting wrinkle.  Can you spot it?

Partner and I play Precision.  We are North South You are defending.  First as West, then as East.  

The Auction:  2 promises 6+ cards and <16 HCP.  We choose to rebid 3 on maximum unbalanced hands (might or might not have 4 cards).  South's 4 rebid suggests extra length (7+).  4 is 1430.  

West
9xx
A10xxxx
9xx
x
North
A7xxx
QJx
AQ
10xx
W
N
E
S
 
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
5
P
6
P
P
P

You are West and choose the A as the opening lead (do you agree?). The first trick completes x, x, K.  How do you continue? Declarer has shown 12 of their potential 15 HCP already. Does declarer hold a third K?  Which suit do you choose to lead?  Your are marginally "stronger" than your . Leading a trump or continuing a seems pointless. Which pointed suit do you attack? Does the 9xx convince you?  Does the AQ in dummy entice you?

You are now EAST (forget what you know about West's hand just for fun):

West switched to the 9.  Declarer rose with the A, Then played x to theA and small to the 10. You pitch a low .  Top s follow, with declarer pitching x and J. What do you make of that?

North
A7xxx
QJx
AQ
10xx
East
KQ10
xxx
K10xxx
xx
W
N
E
S
 
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
5
P
6
P
P
P

You know what's coming.  What will your final 2 cards be?  

Dummy pitches down to (with you facing the final choice on the last ).

North
A7
East
KQ
K
W
N
E
S
 
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
5
P
6
P
P
P

Both you and partner followed to all 3 rounds of .  Partner followed to 1 round of . During the 6 following rounds of s, partner discards 3 more s, 2 more s (in decreasing order), and the 9.  Assume standard carding (that's what they told you when you were declaring this hand!).  Partner had 6 cards and discarded them in top down order, at least you think so - it's the last day of a long tournament after all.

Over to you.  

Does declarer have 8x or 8 and J?  Was partner's switch from J9x or 9xx? What's going on here?

As you struggle with your choice, what one thing should you be grateful for? 

West
98x
A10xxxx
9xx
x
North
A7xxx
QJx
AQ
10xx
East
KQ10
xxx
K10xxx
xx
South
J2
K
Jxx
AKQJxxx
W
N
E
S
 
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
5
P
6
P
P
P
D
6 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

As it turns out, partner was trying to show you the 8, so that you could discard a honor safely in the end position.  It's often hard to stop protecting the obvious threat (7) and abandon the assumed threat ( in Declarer's hand might or might not be the J).  Partner (West) tried to show the 8 by discarding the 9.  If you judged to hold the K and K, you set the hand because partner has the 8x.  

This pseudo or faux show-up squeeze can be difficult to diagnose without good signal agreements and attention to discarding in the threat suits. It's often best to cover the visible threat if known to be genuine.  Here the 7 could have been a threat if Declarer held the 8 - but then we'd be accusing partner of a serious defensive mistake.  

Now for the wrinkle - have you spotted it yet?

West
98x
A10xxxx
9xx
x
North
A7xxx
QJx
AQ
10xx
East
KQ10
xxx
K10xxx
xx
South
J2
K
Jxx
AKQJxxx
W
N
E
S
 
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
5
P
6
P
P
P
D
6 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

In this hand West, not declarer, decides what squeeze - real or faux - they expose partner to!  If West switches to a then the faux squeeze is on, with the 7 as the apparent threat card.  If however West switches to anything else, South will play off the A (Vienna Coup) and subject either defender (arguably East more likely than West) to a show up squeeze in the pointed suits.

Of course if West errs and discards two "worthless" cards, West converts the Faux Squeeze to a real one.  

West came back later and asked if switching to a would have been better for the defense.  I had to offer only small consolation - partner would be subjected to a true squeeze and their defense not tested so heavily.   West made the best play. East should be thankful partner switched to a and not a !

Moral:  When defending where a simple squeeze might exist, attack the suit where the REAL threat exists.  Here that suit is s.  Then trust partner will read your signals and make the right choice in the 2-card ending.

Have you ever seen a hand where a real and faux squeeze both operate?  ...and where the defense chooses which one to subject themselves to?

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