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Today's deal is from a Team of four Swiss held recently in Chennai, and reported by my good friend, S. Sankaran. An ‘Electronics' graduate from the ‘Madras Institute of Technology', he had a passion for the drama in his younger days and was a well-known stage artist.
A man with a keen sense of humour, he and his regular tournament partner claim to play ‘Simple Precision', though I have always found their bidding complicated!
You can find him every day in the evening at the Mylapore Club, playing Rubber Bridge, before making a beeline to the rummy table!
Today's deal is from an IMP event held recently. You will find the squeeze ending to be an unusual one. Can you give it an apt name?
Contract: 4S by south. West leads the S2.
Bidding comment: South's 1S is not the greatest of openings by any means. It is in fact a 11 count, ace-less wonder. North's bid of 4S is not an ideal choice, either. After all, he has a flat hand with no ruffing value. He should have bid 3H as a ‘limit raise or better' in spades, giving opener a chance to stop short of game on dead-minimum hands.
Analysis: If west has ace doubleton in clubs, you will be through.
How the play went: Declarer won the opening lead in hand and played a second spade. West won with the ace and played a third trump. Winning in hand, declarer played a club to the jack, queen, and the ace.
East returned the HJ. Declarer won in hand, crossed to the HA, and finessed the club nine successfully, west showing out. With one more definite loser in clubs, the contract appears to have no chance. Or is there? How should declarer proceed?
Declarer should reel trumps to arrive at the following three-card ending:
Declarer requires two tricks from this position but has only one. The solution is tricky but not difficult. He simply exits in his losing club now and west is squeezed, while east wins the trick. If west discards a heart, dummy discards the diamond nine. If west discards the DQ, dummy can throw the heart and win the last two diamond tricks!
Discussion: It is nothing but a simple positional squeeze. So, what is so great about it? In most squeeze endings, the squeeze card is a winner, which exerts pressure on one or both opponents, resulting in the gain of a trick. Did you notice that in this particular case, a losing card inflicts the squeeze? So, this is called aptly, a losing-card squeeze! How different and how delightful! The EW hands were:
West should have defended better. He should have led his singleton club, to start with. East would have won with the ace and played back a club for west to ruff. West can exit in DK to win the setting trick with the queen, on getting in with the ace of spades.
He probably felt that his partner cannot have an ace, on the bidding.