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All comments by Michael Rosenberg
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I've always been aware of this hand-type from declarer's viewpoint. It comes up a lot. In my career, I've played for someone to have the 5-card suit, the ace and the length dozens of times (and a few times it's actually worked!).

On this hand, make North the declarer and have a spade lead go to the Q and K and you'd see another example. If you play West to have started with Q-fifth, A, and length, and he's got that, he's toast.

But the title of the article was deliberately misleading - I'm really more interested in the defenders' problems here.

While I'd also always been aware of the defenders' issues and options here, I had never really gone into them. When I did (because of this hand) it started making me a little dizzy.

The first part is pretty obvious: if a squeeze exits, you want to make it appear there is a blockage, while if a blockage exists, you want declarer to think he has executed a squeeze.
The second part is that there are holdings where a certain number of cards must be discarded yo create the squeeze illusion. If declarer has Axx facing Kxxx that number would be 2.

In the actual case, where defenders have Qx facing Jxx, a club must be discarded sometime by someone - otherwise there is no guess. This was Rainer's main point, and all the above was known to me before.

On the actual hand, West held Q1098, 8xxxx, xx, Q8. He doesn't discard his blocking spade (because he sees partner will be squeezed). He doesn't pitch another worthless heart. Instead he pitches from Qx - and (on this hand - see below) it is the only chance to defeat the contract. Now that's a DE-fense!

Clearly, if West had Jx rather than Qx, a club discard would be 100%. But I think Rainer missed a problem with discarding from Qx - what if declarer had KJxxx? Now you give declarer a lock (assuming that hand at least MIGHT qualify as “minimum”).

What would declarer (with KJxxx) do after seeing the spade discard on his right and heart on his left? Well, he might decide East was squeezed with 5-2-3-3 and play a heart. OR, he might think East is being tricky with Q and just take a finesse.

By the way, a side issue here is that if West had KING he would discard 8 - telling East it was safe to pitch a club.
Another side issue is that if E started 4-2-3-4 with A, he must pitch at least one black card

But back to the main point. How can West tell if partner has Jxx or xxx? Is it best to discard from xxx (to prevent partner making the fatal discard from Qx) and hope declarer plays you for 4-2-3-4?

In the actual case, whether declarer should play for the diacard from Q8 and play a to 10 (or as Steve B. prefers, a heart) or play them for Q1098x, Axx, xx, QJx (which might well have overcalled) is a tough choice. In practice, the squeeze is probably more likely.

But then, I started thinking of even weirder ideas. what if West (when squeezed with 5-3-2-3) defended this way (club pitch, then honor) from Jxx? FROM QXX? These hands are less clear overcalls. Just as it was ‘wrong’ to play the honor with QJxx (since declarer is about to go wrong if you pitch a low one), maybe it is ‘right’ to pitch the honor from Hxx? Now Steve B. will play a heart and go down?

This is where I start getting dizzy. There seems to be more possible defensive options than I thought. Either player might discard one or drop an honor (although some variations are pretty futile).

Anyway, I thought I'd share this hand. I think there were some ‘new’ card play ideas here, which I always find fascinating. And it's likely I'm wrong about something, or missing something even MORE interesting.

Oct. 24, 2013
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Sorry, Jeff. I did not mean to rub salt in your wound. I just thought the hand was interesting - and did not intend to mention the actual play….
Oct. 23, 2013
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Let's say West started with Q1098,Axx,xx,QJ9x. He would certainly pitch a club at some point. But why would he ever drop the Q under the ace?
As Steve Bloom pointed out “The main hope from the start was that one player held five spades, the heart ace, and club length.”
So if he just followed with the 9, you would surely play him to start with Q1098x,Axx,xx,J9x, and go down. But if he plays the Q, he has you thinking about his failure to overcall with the same hand and Qjx - now you might (for whatever reason) go right.

So, coming to that conclusion, declarer plays a second club from dummy and RHO plays the 9. This is the final question. What now?
Oct. 23, 2013
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In my opinion, an even better book to read for this purpose (or maybe a follow-up book) is my favorite bridge book - Diaboliquement Votre. This is a compilation of about 12 single-dummy problems and about 42 double-dummy problems (many from Bernasconi).

The hands are amazing. I solved the single-dummy, but actually gave up on 6 of the double-dummy. (This was the only time I ever really gave up on bridge problems).

The book is in French, which may seem a bit of a drawback. But basically that just meant I learned some French, too!
Oct. 21, 2013
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Ah - well there is no reason to do that. And it is the legitimate thing to play for after the second spade holds (RHO has Q10 or more than 4-card ).
Oct. 16, 2013
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Rainer,

Regarding the variation where declarer, after winning two spades, switches to hearts to try to squeeze RHO in the blacks, you write that this will work:

“Only if West is a poor player and returns a diamond in the five card ending you show.
If he returns a club, communication to hand is cut and since the diamond ace in dummy has not been cashed yet no squeeze.”

I'm not understanding this. Aside from the fact, you can now double finesse in clubs, would you not make anyway (if RHO had Q109 and declarer AK8) by cashing 5th heart, crossing to A and cashing A?

Maybe you were thinking a round of clubs had already been played?
Oct. 16, 2013
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I think what you mean is that a player who has unfairly USED is considered to be that thoughtless. Before that, we actually want the player to be ‘thoughtful’ as to what he would do with no UI.
Oct. 11, 2013
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If N bids 5 and S bids 6, N will think (assuming no UI) that S has 4 KC WITHOUT Q.
Oct. 9, 2013
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“So you agree that it is theoretically correct to bid 5? (guarding against the 1% chance that partner has only 1 keycard) rather than playing for the 99% chance of partner having 4 keycards and asking for the queen of trumps in search of a grand.”

No, I don't agree. It is correct to bid 5 and, if partner has 4 he bids on and shows the Q.

Come to think of it, I'm changing my mind about the AK seventh and two aces hand. Since you and I agree that AKQ sixth and two aces is too strong for a 3 rebid, it means that North CAN find the AK seventh and two aces hand (since over 5 partner will show the Q, knowing you know it ‘MUST’ BE LENGTH.

I don't see any flaw with your ‘mission accomplished’ scenario. It just means you get rewarded for making the correct technical bid (the bid you should make without UI). Virtue is sometimes more than it's own reward….or maybe it's just a rare and lucky coincidence.

The actual North did (I think) none of that. He used the UI and jumped to slam - just as players who bid P-1M, 2(Drury-not alerted)-3 always jump to 4M. The only time I ever saw a player bid anything other than 4M on this auction was behind screens….
Oct. 9, 2013
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I believe it was already stated that North and South each had over 10,000 masterpoints.
Oct. 8, 2013
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Kit, here is my answer:

1) YOU would NOT have bid 6. You would be keenly aware of the UI, realize you would bid 5 in case partner had one -AND be taking a small chance that partner might pass with 3, since none is impossible. (And you, unlike most players, would be ‘happy’ you were taking that chance.)

So this could never happen to you; but, assuming it did:

2) If you (or anyone) did bid 6, and it was suggested that partner could have AK seventh and two aces and your answer was that partner would have shown K with the Q, I'd be inclined to rule against you too.

3) It's not our job to read the mind of the player. It IS our job to examine the evidence. What they do and say after the infraction is evidence.
The North cards may speak loudly to you “no grand”. But North's actions speak even louder to me “I HAVE UI AND I'M GOING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT”.

4) Let's say I'm wrong, and 6 would have reached with no UI. Yes, N-S suffered unfairly; but at least a message was sent that creating UI and taking advantage of it is likely to be detrimental to your side.
Now let's say you're wrong (North took advantage of UI and they would have reached grand, or maybe 5). You have allowed a travesty of justice AND sent the wrong message.
Oct. 8, 2013
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Agreed about tendencies. But I still think an opponent has a right to the same knowledge you possess about your partner's tendencies - assuming the knowledge is based on discussion and/or previous hands played with that partner.

By the way, I forgot to answer your question:
“ If you were to underlead an Ace twice in three thousand opening leads, would that information be more or less helpful to the Declarer facing the problem you posed?”

My answer is I have no idea. Now, maybe if I knew declarer's tendencies….
Oct. 8, 2013
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Kit,

I agree with you that AKQxxx and two aces is too much for a 3 rebid. (I actually play 1-1, 3red as a forcing 3 rebid.)
However, that doesn't mean to me that everybody else thinks that. I know Ira Rubin (who you played with), for example, believed in rebidding 3 with a forcing 3 rebid, and just hoping partner bid.

I do NOT agree with you about AK seventh and two aces - I might well rebid 3 with that. Since I have fewer high cards, it's slightly more likely partner will find a bid when we have game.

However, all that is, for me, beside the point. The point for me is that the evidence presented suggests to me that North took advantage of the UI. One reason I have for thinking this is that when the AK seventh and 2 aces hand was suggested, he changed tactics and answered about not showing Q + K. A person who had given due thought to not taking advantage of UI would have answered “partner would not show the Q with that hand, for fear I have stiff J, or xx or Jx”.
Oct. 8, 2013
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Josh,

I agree it's “Standard” to show the side K when you show the trump Q. However, South may either not know that, or decide not to. Or North may forget partner ‘can’t' have all the cards he's shown.
My point is that we never discovered these things because (as I said before, imo based on the evidence presented) North used the UI to place the final contract. North lost the right to claim partner would have showed the K when he ‘gave up’ on grand.
Oct. 8, 2013
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Interesting point. I guess the line is drawn at objective explanations of opponents agreements and prior actions. An estimation of ability (which, by its very nature, would be subjective) falls outside the purview.
By the way, I think it's usually the OPPOSITE info that would be useful - that one opponent is a weak player (known to their partner, but not to you). I guess it just helps to get out there and play more….
Oct. 8, 2013
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This story sounds contrived to me. In particular, the line
“ North/South had detailed notes that showed responder's offers of alternative contracts above 6 of the agreed trump suit are always to play and cannot be overridden”…

I'm not saying it couldn't happen. But I'd like to know the N-S hands…I know the author said he wasn't at the table, but presumably he can discover them.

I have one point to make, but I'll wait until the hands are provided.
Oct. 8, 2013
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I doubt the wisdom of using the ACBL convention card as a paradigm of things being done properly. However, since you brought it up…

1) 4-card overcalls - fair enough

2) 3rd seat 4-card major openings - there is a box - but no indication of how frequent they are (btw, I check 4 AND 5 because they are extremely rare for me - I think that's the best I can do (with only checking) to provoke the question.

3) 5-card weak 2 bids. No specific mention of these, though there is space if someone chooses to write that (and not something else about weak 2 style).

4) I could probably come up with a style question for EVERY line on the card

5) I could probably come up with a thousand style questions for bidding and/or card play issues that are NOT on the card.

I think style questions are legitimate. I also think the Laws say they are legitimate (you have not responded to my prior quote of the relevant Laws).
You are free never to ask style questions if you choose not to - but I think you are supposed to answer them to the best of your ability if you are asked.
Oct. 8, 2013
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Let's say dummy has KJx and I have xx, and the auction is one where an ace lead seems quite possible (say 1m-1M, 2N-4M).
It happens that, if I play the K and it wins, that I am cold for the contract; if I play the jack and it loses to the ace, I have an x% chance to make, depending on other factors (obviously, it matters what x represents, but let's leave that alone).
So what should I do? Let's now say that my opponents happen to have made the agreement to ‘never’ underlead aces (you can pooh-pooh that idea if you want, but I believe it has been made by partnerships in the past - including the English team that won the Bermuda Bowl in the 1950's.). So my RHO, on a different hand, would ‘know’ with Q9x to play the 9. Why am I not entitled to ‘know’ to play the jack against this partnership. Or to ‘almost know’ if the truthful answer is “we discussed and said ‘almost never’”

Yes, there may be a coffee-housing danger (although there should not be if the question is properly phrased and honestly answered). But the question is as legitimate as any other question about style; do you ever open a weak 2 with a 5-card suit? Do you frequently overcall with 4-card suits? Do you often open 4-card majors in 3rd seat?
Oct. 8, 2013
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From the evidence presented, there is little doubt that 6 was bid BECAUSE of the UI. That being the case, I would disallow it's success - as long as I can find some reasonable route to failure.
Asking for the queen is not just reasonable - it's clear. Showing the queen is reasonable. Bidding grand now is not just reasonable - it's clear.
So this is easy - 7 down one. I was disappointed I couldn't find a 7N redoubled down 6 hand, but you can't have everything. However, maybe just the 7 down one ruling will make this North (and anyone reading my ruling) think twice before blatantly and ‘unthinkingly’ taking advantage of UI.

There should also be some sort of record of North's action - so it can be accessed in the event of a repeat occurrence.
I might not be too hard on North if I thought they did not know much better (possible - you'd be amazed at what some people don't know). But I sure would want to be ‘hard’ if it happened again.
Oct. 7, 2013
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Wasn't the Hamman auction a 2-level bid?
Oct. 5, 2013
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