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Information Squeeze
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In a round-robin match in the Open Trials, you face an interesting evaluation problem.

N-S vul, East deals. As South, you hold:

South
AK2
K10984
K8
Q72
W
N
E
S
P
?

Your opening 1NT range is 14-16.

If you open 1 and partner responds 1, a 1NT rebid would show 11-13. If partner responds 1NT that is non-forcing, and a 2 of a minor rebid by you would show at least a 4-card suit.

Your call?

South
AK2
K10984
K8
Q72
W
N
E
S
P
?

Even if you are averse to opening 1NT with a 5-card major, this is the hand to do it on. If you open 1, you will be stuck for a rebid. In addition, the hand looks notrumpish with something in every suit.

You open 1NT. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
?

2: transfer

If you choose to super-accept, the only super-accept call is 3.

Your call?

South
AK2
K10984
K8
Q72
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
?

The super-accept is a bid which should be used rarely. It gains only on the parlay of responder having a hand which would not have moved after a normal 2 call, would have bid game after a super-accept, and game makes. That is a very tiny window. It loses when responder is weak and 3 is going down.

At first glance, it appears that if ever there were a hand on which to super-accept this hand is it. 15 HCP, all of which may be functioning. Huge trump support. Plenty of primes, with only one queen and no jacks.

A closer examination reveals that the hand isn't as strong as it looks. The 5-card heart support may be overkill, representing duplicated values. Picture partner with AQxxx or QJxxx, and the fifth heart in your hand isn't of much value. Imagine partner holding something like xx AQJxx Qxx xxx. This is a hand on which partner will be inviting if you bid only 2. He has great trumps so he thinks, which turn out to be worthless. Even with his queen of diamonds working and a worthwhile ruffing value in spades, game is poor. Your hand would be stronger if you had only 4 trumps but a side source of tricks. You should settle for 2.

You choose to bid 3. The bidding concludes:

W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

West leads the 6. Third and fifth leads. Standard carding.

North
83
AJ732
Q62
J65
South
AK2
K10984
K8
Q72
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

You play small from dummy. East plays the 4, and this forces your ace. How do you begin?

North
8
AJ732
Q62
J65
South
K2
K10984
K8
Q72
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

If the hearts are 3-0, you must go the right way. There isn't much to go on. One small clue is West's pass over the 1NT opening. If West were void in hearts, he might have found some distributional call in his methods. Also, you will at some point be leading a diamond from dummy, so it may be more convenient to win the second round of hearts in dummy.

You lead the king of hearts. Both opponents follow small. What next?

North
8
AJ73
Q62
J65
South
K2
10984
K8
Q72
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

You would like to enlist the enemy help and have them break the club suit when they get in with the ace of diamonds. Right now they know they have a safe spade exit. One thought is to cash the king of spades before crossing to dummy with a heart and leading a diamond, pretending you have AK doubleton of spades. If West has the ace of diamonds he might think a spade continuation is dangerous and playing a club is safest. This isn't likely to work. For starters, East should be giving West current count on the spades. In addition, West will know that returning a diamond is safe. Suppose West has the dangerous-looking holding of AJx of diamonds. He will know you don't have K10x, since with that you would have arranged to finesse the 10. Consequently either you have K109 in which case returning a diamond won't matter, or you don't have the 10, in which case a diamond return is fine. It is better to simply draw the second trump and retain the king of spades for future communication. Naturally you will lead the 10 to dummy, retaining the most flexibility in the heart suit. It is hard to see how this can matter, but it is just good technique.

You lead the 10. West plays the queen, you win the ace, and East discards a diamond. What next?

North
8
J73
Q62
J65
South
K2
984
K8
Q72
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

Naturally you will be leading a small diamond from dummy at some point. This has the legitimate chance that East has ace-doubleton, as well as the possibility that the defense makes a mistake.

How are you going to deal with the club suit? If you are convinced that West would have led a club from AK, an interesting possibility is to lead the jack of clubs off dummy. Most of the time East will have an easy cover, but if he has the ace and neither the king nor the 10 he might be lulled into playing small. This would be a disaster if West has AK of clubs, and might cost you a winning end-play when the clubs are 5-2 in some variations. It probably isn't a good idea.

Should you ruff out the spades before making your diamond play in order to rob West of a spade exit? As has been shown, West will know a diamond return is safe. A better hope is that East has the ace of diamonds and not the jack. If you lead a diamond from dummy to your king, cross back to dummy, and lead another diamond off, East may be afraid that you have KJ doubleton of diamonds and think he needs to go up ace and cash 3 club tricks. You don't want to have to make that cross to dummy with a trump, as this gives West a chance to signal some information. Thus, your best chance is to make your diamond play now.

You lead a diamond to your king. Suppose West wins the ace and leads a spade, knocking out your king. How do you continue?

North
J73
Q6
J65
South
2
984
8
Q72
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

If one opponent has both club honors, it won't matter from which hand you lead the suit, provided you lead small. You have the additional chance that the clubs are 5-2, and that you can work an end-play. You want to strip out the spades and diamonds. It is probably best to lead the club from dummy since East is more likely to have AK, although after stripping out the pointed suits you may choose to cross to your hand in trumps and lead a club from your hand.

You lead a diamond to the queen and ruff a diamond with the 9, once again maintaining maximum flexibility in the trump suit. You now ruff your last spade in dummy. Both opponents follow to the third round of spades and diamonds. What next?

North
J7
J65
South
84
Q72
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

If one defender has both club honors, anything sensible will work. You can still try leading the jack of clubs, but at this point East knows enough about the hand to cover from any holding.

If the club honors are split and the clubs are 4-3, you have no chance. However, if the clubs are 5-2 and one of the opponents has honor doubleton, you can end-play that opponent if you do things properly. You can't afford to play low from both hands, as that gives up on making when the AK of clubs are in the same hand. However, if you can determine which opponent has the doubleton club, you can arrange to lead through that opponent, and the end-play will succeed.

Who has the doubleton club? There might be some clue from the cards played in spades and diamonds, although the opponents would be pretty free to falsecard as they see fit. However, there is a 100% way to find out. There are 5 cards left. If the clubs are 5-2, the opponent with 5 clubs will be forced to discard a club when you lead a trump. You then play his partner for honor-doubleton, by leading through his partner. This is an unusual form of an information squeeze.

There is one further catch. You need to be in the right hand, depending upon which opponent has the doubleton club. Consequently, you must lead the 7 from dummy. If East discards a club, overtake and lead a club to the jack, making when West started with honor-doubleton. If East discards something else you know he didn't start with 5 clubs, so retain the lead in dummy with the 7 and lead a club through East, succeeding if East started with honor-doubleton. If West doesn't discard a club the clubs have to be 4-3, so your best bet is to lead the jack of clubs and hope East is asleep at the switch. Your good technique in the trump suit maintaining maximum flexibility paid off in a way which was difficult to anticipate.

In fact, this isn't what happened. West did lead the 5 when in with the ace of diamonds, but East inadvertently played the 7 under dummy's 8. You see this in time, grab back the king of spades you were mentally playing and was halfway out of your hand. and play the 2. You are now cold, with dummy's third club going on the king of spades. The full hand is:

West
Q1065
Q6
A54
A1084
North
83
AJ732
Q62
J65
East
J974
5
J10973
K93
South
AK2
K10984
K8
Q72
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
3
4
A
3
1
0
K
6
2
5
3
2
0
10
Q
A
3
1
3
0
2
9
K
A
0
3
1
5
8
7
2
1
4
1
5

Apart from the obvious blunder at the end, how was the defense?

West
Q1065
Q6
A54
A1084
North
83
AJ732
Q62
J65
East
J974
5
J10973
K93
South
AK2
K10984
K8
Q72
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
3
4
A
3
1
0
K
6
2
5
3
2
0
10
Q
A
3
1
3
0
2
9
K
A
0
3
1
5
8
7
2
1
4
1
5

The opening spade lead looks reasonable. Holding aces in the minors, West has every reason to fear one of them will be knocked out setting up discards for losing spades. If West had slower tricks in the minors, there would be less need for an aggressive and possibly costly spade lead from this holding.

East's play of the 4 at trick 1 was a good example of careful spot watching. East worked out that his partner had to have the 10, since West wouldn't be leading the 6 from KQ65, Q652 or K652. By playing the 4, East lets West know what is going on in the suit.

Do you agree with North's bidding?

West
Q1065
Q6
A54
A1084
North
83
AJ732
Q62
J65
East
J974
5
J10973
K93
South
AK2
K10984
K8
Q72
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
3
4
A
3
1
0
K
6
2
5
3
2
0
10
Q
A
3
1
3
0
2
9
K
A
0
3
1
5
8
7
2
1
4
1
5

The transfer is obvious. North was planning on passing 2, but when South super-accepted it was clear for North to bid game. It is worth noting that North had the perfect heart holding which makes South's fifth heart valuable, yet game is still a little worse than 50%.

Information squeezes occur more often than one might realize. The key is to take advantage of them. This particular hand is unique in that the information squeeze is combined with an overtake/undertake play depending upon the information received.

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