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Which Squeeze XXVII
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A genre of problem that interests me is hands that present multiple squeeze possibilities and the problem is to select the best one.

North
KQ92
QJ2
South
A2
A4
A43
 

A position like this arose in a hand played by Andy Stark where East was known to have the only 2 remaining spades, and the K (from an original 6=2=?=?), but the location of 6 outstanding diamonds and 5 outstanding other clubs (West pitched one from an original 2=3=?=?) is unknown.

So, how do you play? 

Some thoughts:  This sort of looks like a compound squeeze, with an isolated spade menace over its defender, and 2 possible double threats with entries.  There are some twists, though:

1.  Diamonds is not actually a double threat, only one defender can stop it, though we might not know which at the moment.  It's a mystery menace.

2.  The club suit is a bit less flexible entry-wise than if you had Kx instead of QJ.

3.  On the other hand, RHO can unilaterally blow up the club suit for the defense, in this sense it is more powerful.  (See Shortstop Squeezes, by Don Kersey, Bridge World, October 2002)

My solution on the next page.

North
KQ92
QJ2
South
A2
A4
A43
 

Recall that RHO has sole spade stopper and K.

One benefit of a mystery menace (in ) over an ordinary double threat is that it often works just as well without entries.  This indicates cashing diamonds and perhaps learning something useful.

One benefit of the "shortstop" menace (in ) is that it can sometimes overcome a missing entry in another double threat suit, here diamonds.  This also indicates cashing diamonds.

So, run diamonds to see what develops.  There is an extra benefit that even if you still are unsure of the location of the guard, the 9 creates a restricted choice situation that may help you place it.  Here is the ending as you play the last diamond:

North
Q9
QJ2
South
A2
A43
 

Here you intend to pitch the 2 unless it is unguarded.  In the 4 card ending, RHO must retain 2 spades, the K, and one card in a minor.  If you think it is a diamond, then K is bare and you play 2.  If it is protected, then you are aiming at a minor suit squeeze against LHO and it is time to take the club finesse.  Note that ducking K to block the suit fails because it can be dropped on the next round.  (This is what gives the "shortstop" its name:  RHO has given up stopping the long club, but still is busy preventing the K from being played on air.)  So, QKA, then A.

So, how do you know whether RHO has a diamond or a club?  You aren't guaranteed.  But if diamonds are 5-2, you'll know, and when they're 4-3, if East drops the J or T restricted choice points the same way as the remaining division of club spots being more equal (i.e. to East having a club).  If West drops the diamond honor, then it's much closer, but the priors on club spot distributions are more important than restricted choice and it still pays to play West for holding the length.

If you were always going to play West for length, couldn't you just have played this as a type-R double squeeze around clubs?  A first to squeeze West out of a long club, pitch a diamond, then run diamonds to squeeze East in the blacks, and finally take 3 club tricks?  Yes, though you will mis-guess when West pitches a diamond from 5.

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