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The Lame Squeeze and the LOLR



There is so much more to bridge than you find in bridge books, because bridge books so often deal with the play between good defenders and a good declarer, neither of which have ever been particularly prevalent in bridge games I play in. This means that there are strategic methods that have been developed just for our level of play. I would like to introduce you to one that comes up fairly often in low level play: the Lame Squeeze.

Now everyone knows what a squeeze is: you play lots of winners and eventually a defender throws something wrong. This is usually followed by their partner helpfully telling them it was wrong, some sort of squelching reply from the squeeze victim, and then the resulting barney and baleful staring between the defenders gets you two more tops on the subsequent boards, so squeeze play is well worth learning. The thing about a real squeeze of course is that ALL the discards are 'wrong'. However real squeezes require a fair bit of learning and don't come up too often, so I would like to show you the Lame Squeeze which has the downside of having very little chance of actually gaining you a trick, but which has the dual upside of being quite common, and resulting in spectacular defender bust-ups when it does come off.

Let's define our terms, which is important, seeing I made them up. A Lame Squeeze is said to have occurred when the defenders both hold a stopper in both the two suits you have as threats, and can stop the squeeze by the simple expedient of one defender keeping a stopper in one suit and the other defender keeping a stopper in the other suit, but unaccountably they end up both keeping a stopper in the same suit and neither of them keeping a stopper in the other. This of course leads to the same shouting match as with a real squeeze, and has the added advantage that both defenders are actually right when they say "you stuffed it up."

Now I would like to illustrate the Lame Squeeze in action, but I have chosen a hand (Board 14, July 23, daytime session at Sydney Bridge Centre in town) where things took a rather interesting and unexpected turn, and enabled me to discover ANOTHER new bridge strategy. We were dealt the cards above. With our usual laser-like bidding accuracy, we propelled ourselves to our normal one level too high, playing the hand in Five Spades by East, after a combination of vigorous competition in Hearts by North/South, hopeless over-optimism by West, and a dogged determination to get my table money's worth of declarer play by East. Five Hearts doubled would have gone for +300, but that was by the by.

The heart Ace was led and the woefully inadequate dummy was tabled with a confident shrug of the shoulders. I gave my standard sickly grin and mechanical 'thank you', noting the contract was absolutely hopeless as usual. The only chance was if there was no Trick 2 shift to clubs, because then I could draw trumps, duck a diamond, ruff a heart, win the club Ace, and play off my winners, making on any 3-3 diamond break or where the defender with four or more diamonds felt oddly compelled to clutch onto a club instead of one of the diamonds. However, the defenders, with an accuracy borne of having no real alternatives, shifted to a club at Trick 2, and the real squeeze was dead in the water.

Fortunately, however, I am a noted aficionado of the Lame Squeeze, and the opportunity for one was apparent. I ducked the club, then won the club continuation with the Ace. Now I could draw trumps, ruff a heart and continue with all the trumps, throwing two diamonds from dummy, and if both defenders felt the need to keep a club of some sort, the last three tricks would be diamond King, diamond Ace and the diamond three, with both defenders shamefacedly tabling club honours and preparing to engage in bitter post-mortem. But then a funny thing happened to my plan ...

I cashed the top two spades, and was surprised - I think you will agree, quite reasonably so - to find North discarding on the first round, and South discarding on the second. Now I don't know about you, but usually when I have eleven trumps, I expect a 2-0 or 1-1 break rather than the very rare 1-0 break of two trumps. However I shrugged and continued, ruffing the other heart. At this point North made a small noise, and it became reasonably apparent to a declarer as experienced as myself that the missing trump had made its rather belated appearance in North's hand. The director was called, the revoke was accepted as established, and I had no real option but to continue with my plan. I led a trump, the revoked Queen won, and North led a club. I was able to ruff this, but it removed my threat card for the Lame Squeeze, and the opponents had no trouble keeping a diamond for want of viable alternatives. Making 9 tricks, plus one penalty trick for the revoke, made 10. Down 1.

So ... the revoke not only cost nothing (one trick penalty for being allowed to keep the master trump which will obviously gain the penalty trick back) but the delayed winner removed the club threat card and eliminated what tiny chance I had to make the defenders choose between clubs and diamonds. The revoke actually gained for the defenders.

There is something quite odd about the penalty system for revoking. It's a two trick penalty for winning the trick you revoked on, but only a one trick penalty for failing to follow suit in trumps and then winning a trick with the revoked trump, which basically means no penalty at all, and as we have seen, the revoke can be used strategically to eliminate a threat card. Please note that it was definitely NOT done deliberately: the defender in question simply had two cards stuck together, but that net gain was the ultimate effect. Perhaps I should have demanded a trump audit on the second round of trumps when the problem became apparent, because then I would have got the revoke penalty trick without losing the Queen of Spades, but this of course only works if it is North who has revoked: if I do that and it turns out to be South that has the spade Queen, there is no established revoke, just a pointless heart penalty card.

So as long as the opponents can do that, there's no way of bringing home the contract. But later I had a good look at the hand, and thought, now what if two can play at that game? What I should have done is this: On the Heart Ace lead at Trick 1, discard a diamond from hand! Now the obvious club shift from a no doubt bemused defender doesn't work: I win the Ace, draw trumps (frisking both opponents for the Q if necessary), ruff a heart, cash A, K, and ruff a diamond in hand, establishing the long diamond, ruff the other heart, table the long diamond and throw my club on it. Making twelve, minus one for the revoke equals eleven tricks: contract made, and a cold top! And I have invented a new strategic play: ladies and gentlemen, I give you the LOLR - the Loser-On-Loser Revoke. Good luck to all who sail in her.

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