Which Squeeze? #7 -- Solution
(Page of 4)

This problem was originally presented by me, without discussion, here.  On the following pages is my best stab at a solution.

West
North
J9
AQ9432
4
KJ95
East
South
K872
KJ
AJ87
A62
W
N
E
S
1
2
X
2NT
P
3
X
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
4
K
A
3
1
0
K
6
2
5
3
2
0
J
7
3
2
3
3
0
A
8
5
3
3
4
0
2
4
J
10
1
5
0
5

After the first 5 tricks as shown, you have 10 in the bank, is there a play for an 11th?

Trick one suggests West holds Q.  If they also hold A, we can try to run hearts and throw West in with a spade to lead away from Q.  Because we have an extra loser compared to a vanilla strip squeeze, we have to worry about West having a link to East.  That's not actually a problem, though:  the only possibility is a low spade, meaning West must pitch Q and our 8 will come into play.  It could look something like this:

West
A3
10876
Q106
Q874
North
J9
AQ9432
4
KJ95
East
Q10654
5
K9532
103
South
K872
KJ
AJ87
A62
W
N
E
S
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
4
K
A
3
1
0
K
6
2
5
3
2
0
J
7
3
2
3
3
0
A
8
5
3
3
4
0
2
4
J
10
1
5
0
A
3
2
8
1
6
0
Q
4
7
10
1
7
0
9
5
8
10
1
8
0
4
9
6
Q
1
9
0
J
Q
K
A
0
9
1
3
9
10
7
2
9
2
6
8
12

We could also throw West in with clubs to lead away from A.

But surely East is notably more likely to have the A.  I think the auction and trick one suggest a layout like the one encountered at the table, shown here:

West
43
10876
Q106
Q874
North
J9
AQ9432
4
KJ95
East
AQ1065
5
K9532
103
South
K872
KJ
AJ87
A62
W
N
E
S
1
2
X
2NT
P
3
X
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
4
K
A
3
1
0
K
6
2
5
3
2
0
J
7
3
2
3
3
0
A
8
5
3
3
4
0
2
4
J
10
1
5
0
5

What ending do you aim for here?

Clearly we must still cash some hearts.  After that, our main hope is to lead a spade to the K without the defense being able to take 3 tricks.  So maybe running hearts will strip some surplus winners.  After the 5th, it will look something like:

West
4
Q10
Q7
North
J9
4
K9
East
AQ10
95
South
K8
J8
6
D

On the last, we want to keep our pointed minor tenaces intact, so we pitch 6.  East won't be troubled, but West is now stuck.  On a spade pitch, cash K and exit 9 pitching spades on both, and West will have to concede a trick to J.

On a diamond pitch, the ending is pretty.  Lay off K and lead to the K.  East must win (or you'll make 6).  A diamond exit will endplay West to give dummy 2 clubs (or K and K), while a spade to your established K allows you to step to dummy's K via West's Q.

We went around the world on the last 4 tricks:  North led to East, then East led to South, South to West, and West back to North.

So, is it clear which option is better?

Turns out this was a false choice.  If we take the Q and shapes for granted, we don't care where the A is.  We keep all options open with the 2nd line.

North
J9
4
K9
South
K8
J8
6

• If West pitches 2 spades, we will know the layout and throw West in to lead from Q.  (This was the table result)
• If only one spade is pitched, we can play a spade to K.  3 different players might win this trick, but we don't mind regardless.  Worst case is West wins leaving East with a master spade, but West can only take Q and then lead into our club tenace.
• Finally, if West pitches no spades and therefore 2 diamonds (including Q perforce), we discard differently:  as soon as West pitches a diamond spot, South makes sure to hold 3 spades and can blank the J with their last pitch.  Now, lead J.  If East wins, we have (at least) K and J.  If East covers, we cover and West must win or again we have K and J.  Now West can lead into dummy's tenace, or establish 8.  If East ducks and West wins Q, either defender can have A but then must concede the last 2 to one hand or the other.  The 9 is not necessary for this ending.

So, is this a sure-tricks line, given that we assign East 5=1=5=2 shape and West the Q, and the plays to the first 5 tricks?

Not quite.  What if West pitches one spade and the Q?  What is his last diamond spot?  On a normal 6 lead, it will be the 10 or 9, which we can duck just as well as the Q in a winkle-like ending (East can't play 10 over 9 or we just win and cash 8).  But if it's a lower spot, we will wind up a trick short as East forces our J and then has the master of both pointed suits.

A final challenge: what if you don't hold the 9?  I think almost everything works about the same, except when West blanks A and we misguess.