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The Un-Basic Menace
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It's been a good while since my last update in this series.  I still plan to come back to post-heptagons from the fifth dimension (not an April fools joke!), but in the meantime here's a curiosity I find interesting...

 

I found this ending in an Anthony Moon / Tim Bourke squeeze book (_Compound Squeezes_, p. 412).  You may want to try solving the double dummy problem first:

West
KQ
KQ
Q876
North
A2
32
AK109
East
J10
J10
J543
South
43
A4
2
AKQ
D
 

Clubs are trumps, South is on lead needing the rest.  

Hand repeated:

West
KQ
KQ
Q876
North
A2
32
AK109
East
J10
J10
J543
South
43
A4
2
AKQ
D
 

Let's take stock.  You're certainly going to start with a club, and it looks like the 2nd heart in dummy is idle, so plan to pitch that.

You'll have an ordinary doubly-stopped menace in hearts, and a similar menace in spades except you have the option to block that suit and rely on the menace in your hand.  

The diamond menace is sort of interesting, though.  Say West pitches a heart and East a spade (vice versa would be similar), then it works as an ordinary pivot suit in a double squeeze.  The post-squeeze ending (after unblocking A and running round winners) would be:

West
K
Q87
North
AK10
East
J
J54
South
4
4
2
D
 

[Shown with both West and East a discard behind]

So maybe East doesn't pitch a major and instead lets go a diamond.  Now the ruffing possibility comes into play:  AK (pitch spade), diamond ruff, finish clubs (pitch heart) and play A in this ending:

West
KQ
Q
North
A2
10
East
J
QJ
South
4
A4
D

East had to part with a spade on the last club, and now West is squeezed.  

West pitching a spade at trick 1 and East pitching a diamond will result in a different double squeeze (A-ruff, club pitching spade, A, K).  

So, West will pitch a diamond on the first club, leading to...

 

West
KQ
KQ
Q87
North
A2
3
AK109
East
J10
J
J543
South
43
A4
2
AK
D
 

(East could also pitch a spade, variant not shown.)

It looks to me like there's a major problem:  no basic menace.  All primary squeezes need (at least) one, but where is it?

A basic menace is a menace where an opponent under it bears full responsibility.  Things that get called hexagon squeezes still have this property, and they get it by having a funny menace (such as a guard menace) where only the combined strength of both opponents suffices as a stopper.  Such a menace still has the property, though, that the opponent under the length can unilaterally concede a trick with a discard in that suit.  

And (until now) they also always have the property that the stopper under the length has the same length.  Diamonds is the basic menace here.  It is the only one I've ever seen that can carry that duty without the stopper (q87 here) being as long as the menace over it.  

In this position, what does West do on the next club?  

A heart would instantly lose, but what about a spade?  That fails, too, much the same as it did on the last page (e.g. A, A, clubs).  So, West tries a diamond.  But that exposes East to a ruffing finesse in that suit.  

So, how did that work?  Here's what I think: the key element of the basic menace is not that the stopper is as long as the menace, but rather that the stopper is *longer* than the menace-complement (the holding you need opposite to help give a menace force).  Most menaces have a shorter complement, so a stopper being as long as a menace basically guarantees that that will occur.  But, the ♦AKT9 menace, unusually for a dual-menace (this can't happen with guard menaces or clash menaces), has a complement that is 2 shorter.  Here, the complement is ♦2 and a trump.  This 2 card difference means that an essential stopper, ♦Hxx onside, can be both shorter than the menace itself and still longer than the complement.

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