Join Bridge Winners
Think Far Ahead
(Page of 9)

I invite you to give the hand a try before reading. Be forewarned: I'll force you to take a non-mainstream action on first round (otherwise the whole point of the hand would be missed).

Note that we are playing in an event with matchpoint scoring.

Link to try the hand:http://www.bridgegod.com/playprob.php?probid=548&artid=155

Both vulnerable, second position, we are dealt:

South
J4
A4
K752
AQ642
W
N
E
S
P
?

This is a normal 1, however I choose a 15-17 1NT instead. There are some negatives on this hand for doing so, for a start (22)(54) is the worst possible shape to upgrade an opening. According to Tyler Eaves's analysis it is statistically the shape that is least likely to make game double-dummy, although all balanced hands without majors produce similar results.

But on the positive side we have 2 things: we have decent-to-good holdings to receive the lead in all four suits. And perhaps more important, at this vulnerability, playing matchpoints, there is potentially big upside from shutting opponents out of their major-suitpartscore.

South
J4
A4
K752
AQ642
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
2
3
P

2 = DONT, diamonds + a major

3 = natural strong, 5+ hearts, game forcing.

What now?

If partner has 6 hearts we will play 4 regardless, the problem arises when he has only 5. Is it better to play3NTor4?

3 won't solve the dilemma for us. When 2 suits have been bid we cuebid the one we stop. So assuming LHO's major is spades,3 would show spade values and request a diamond stopper.

East didn't raise spades, sothis implies partner may have some spades. Also even when spades run, West doesn't always know it. She might lead a diamond without any knowledge. But, the key for me was the vulnerability. West is vulnerable, so she will likely be 5-5 for her bid. This means it could be disastrous to play 4 when the trumps can easily be 5-1 (on either side.) The worst that can happen in3NTis to go one or two down quickly. 4-Xon a 5-1 trump break is much worse.

So I bid 3NT ending the bidding. LHO led 10 (standard honor leads) and here comes dummy.

West
10
North
AQ8
KJ1085
Q84
95
East
South
J4
A4
K752
AQ642
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
2
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Contract is good, partner's spades prevent any danger there, we have dominant holdings in every suit, and our1NTopening appears to have given us a free diamond trick fromright-siding.

What is the plan?

West
10
North
AQ8
KJ1085
Q84
95
East
South
J4
A4
K752
AQ642
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
2
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Clearly we can make the contract if hearts break reasonably (West has 2+ or singleton 9) as there will be 4-5 heart tricks. We will have 2 spade tricks after the finesse, and it looks from the lead that we can make 2 diamond tricks playing towards dummy's Qat some point (losing one to the ace). Club finesse is a favorite to make but no guarantee. It is time to think about overtricks.

If hearts come home without loss and the club finesse is working, we can anticipate 11 tricks: 2+5+2+2. The twelfth trick could come from any suit. And our dominant holdings in each suit will allow us to pick the suit we want... Yes, it all points to an squeeze. Probably against West.

However squeezes can be broken when the opponents win tricks and harm your communications. That's why we should analyze the position deeply even before playing to the first trick.

West
K109
9
North
AQ8
9
East
South
J4
7
A
D

This is the basic ending, West is squeezed on the play of A, and this is going to be common on all squeeze positions we will see on this hand, A is the squeeze card on West. So this is the card we must preserve at all cost until the end.

This position assumes that West has decided to win A when we played the suit up, but what happens when she ducks?

West
K109
A9
North
AQ8
8
9
East
South
J4
75
A
D

This is a squeeze without the count variant. If West discards a spade it is easy, if instead she discards a diamond we play a diamond ourselves. This not only makes the 7 high, but also endplays West to give us an entry to hand with J to score it. Note that the 4th diamond is important. If we had kept a club instead, the strip squeeze on West fails, as she can exit K blocking the suit and forcing us to lose a trick with either the 8 or the club in hand.

This position is also delicate because we require the J to be an entry after squeezing West. If East is inspired and decides to open spades from his side when he wins Q, this squeeze will be broken. West could even win A later and play a second spade trick to destroy all communication.

Now let's assume spades aren't played prematurely. Squeezing West when she has 109 is not difficult, but what happens when East is guarding the suit as well?

West
K1063
9
North
AQ8
10
9
East
952
KJ
South
J4
7
A6
D

On this position North will lead his last heart, and East is going to be squeezed out of his third spade. A classic non-simultaneous double squeeze. Once East reduces his spade count, West is squeezed normally.

However there is one position where the squeeze fails:

West
K1063
A9
North
AQ8
10
8
9
East
952
KJ10
South
J4
75
A6
D

If West ducks the diamond, it won't save her from being squeezed later, but by refusing to rectify the count she saves partner from the double squeeze. As we can see on the diagram, East can pitch a club on this scheme with no difficulty. West can later pitch her third spade and one more trick will be scored by E-W.

West
10
North
AQ8
KJ1085
Q84
95
East
South
J4
A4
K752
AQ642
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
2
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Enough ending analysis, to get to the squeeze position we will need to resolve the hearts, diamonds, and the club finesse. We hope that when time comes, K is onside, or we have already made enough tricks so even a losing finesse will still make the contract for a decent score.

It seems too risky to start with a diamond, because if West has K as a later entry she might clear the diamonds and we could end up losing 3, 1, 1. We are already ahead of the field after receiving a diamond lead from the right side, so it doesn't look very smart.

So let's start with hearts. East is more likely to have Q, should we finesse him for that card?

Clearly not. If East has 4+ hearts we can't prevent him from winning Q eventually, while if he has only 3 it is equally likelyto find Qin either hand. So no point in blocking the suit for something that is unlikely to help.

West
North
AQ8
KJ1085
Q84
95
East
South
J4
A4
K752
AQ642
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
2
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
4
J
K
3
1
0
A
2
5
3
3
2
0
4
6
J
7
1
3
0
K
9
2
Q
1
4
0
4

Click on NEXT to follow the first few tricks.

So far so good, hearts are 3-3 with the queen onside, so East won't be able to lead a spade and break our ending.

West must be short in clubs since she has 3 hearts. This is good because there is no chance that West can damage our communication by playing a second club trick prematurely when she wins A. She won't have that club. So we can enter the hand with the club finesse to try the diamond finesse.

West
North
AQ8
108
Q8
95
East
South
J4
752
AQ64
W
N
E
S
P
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT West
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
7
Q
3
3
1
0
2
3
Q
3
1
2
0
2

West opts to duck, which is the best defense, now if East keeps his spades we will need luck with 109...

West
North
AQ8
108
8
9
East
South
J4
75
A64
W
N
E
S
P
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT West
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
8
4
6
1
1
0
8
10
6
6
1
2
0
9
J
A
9
3
3
0
3

If you counted diamonds, West pitched 2 of them on the last 2 tricks. This means A is now stiff and the squeeze without the count has worked (usually West makes it more obvious with a final hesitation). A diamond puts West in and we can score the last 3 tricks.

In reallife this is not what actually happened. East had an intermediate spade so he could have guarded the spades. But he ruined it all by making his first discard a discouraging low spade. Not that it mattered much since he pitched it on the same trick partner had already won Awhen she shouldn't have, so he would be squeezed out of it later anyway. This defense is not easy double-dummy, but it's even worse when you can't see the whole hand.

Even though the defenders didn't do their best I was happy, it's not every day that you can see 3 different squeeze endings at trick one on a real hand. I ran the hand through Deep Finesse to see if there was anything else interesting...

It so happens that after a diamond lead, as the cards lie, the defense cannot stop me from making 12 tricks. But to do so I would have to make a big leap of faith andassume that hearts provide 5 tricks, and the Kis onside. If both of these conditions are met, then the key is to preserve 2 clubs in dummy. I also need to handle entries to my hand efficiently. I will need every entry, so the first thing to do is to start with the diamonds ASAP.

Assuming West ducks (best defense) here is how it will go:

West
K10632
Q62
A10963
North
AQ8
KJ1085
Q84
95
East
975
973
J
KJ10873
South
J4
A4
K752
AQ642
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
2
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
4
J
K
3
1
0
2
3
Q
3
1
2
0
5
3
A
2
3
3
0
4
6
J
7
1
4
0
K
9
2
Q
1
5
0
10
7
5
2
1
6
0
6

(click on NEXT to follow the play)

Now on the last heart East is squeezed, although it is not completely obvious.

Perhaps it's easier to explain the next move. On the last heart we will pitch a diamond from hand (useless as dummy's diamond will provide a similar threat), and the next move is the key: rectify the count by ducking a club.

Do you see it now? If East has pitched a club our 4th club will be good, while if he pitches a spade West ends up in a simple positional squeeze because the count is now rectified. It doesn't matter if East returns a spade or a club, we now have the communications to handle both.

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