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Deal of the Week (Sep 14, 2007) Click here for Archives

The Auction:
West  North  East  South
2♠      pass    pass  3
all pass

West starts with the top three spades, East ruffs the third round with the 10, you overruff with the jack. The declarer at the table led the ♣3 at this stage, and covered West's ♣8 with the ♣9, which lost to the king. East now returned the K, West plays the 9 under your ace. When you play a heart to the king, East discards the 7. When you cash the ♣A, West follows with the ♣J. Here are two questions for you:

1. How would you plan the rest of the play?
2. Do you agree with declarer's play of the ♣3 at trick four?

If the ♣J is a true card, then East has six diamonds and four clubs. You draw the rest of the trumps at this stage, and something quite interesting occurs when you play the last trump:

 864 Deal  -
 8  -
 -  QJ
 -  76

East is subjected to a stepping stone squeeze. If East discards a club, you will simply overtake the ♣10 with the queen, and cash the ♣4 for your ninth trick. If East discards a diamond, you will cash the ♣10, and exit a diamond to East, who has to concede the last trick to dummy's ♣Q. In the latter case, you use East as a stepping stone to dummy (by throwing him in with a diamond), and hence the name stepping-stone squeeze.

Have you decided if you like declarer's play of ♣3 to the nine at trick four? When declarer played the ♣3, West had a chance to kill dummy by playing the ♣J, so that the ace and ten of clubs block the club suit. The natural counter to this threat is to play the ♣10 instead of the ♣3. Regardless of whether West covers this or not, you can make the contract by executing a simple squeeze on East after he wins the ♣K.

What if West puts up a stronger defense by not winning the ♣K (either in the original problem or in the variation where declarer leads the ♣10)? In that case, you will play off your trumps and throw East in with a diamond, who will have to play away from his ♣K.

It is worth noting that West needed to shift to a diamond at trick three (or earlier) to defeat the contract. When East gets in with the ♣K, he will have two diamonds to cash. Declarer cannot counter by endplaying East in diamonds, as East will simply cash his diamonds and play another diamond giving a ruff-and-discard. Declarer can discard only one club from hand, and will have to lose another club.

As to the question of the play of ♣3 at trick four, while it is suboptimal in theory, in practice it is difficult to gauge its merit. Now that you have read the complete solution, we leave it to you to reevaluate whether you agree (or like) the actual declarer's line of play.

 AKQ864 Deal  97
 8632  10
 9  KQJ754
 J8  K765

This is quite a remarkable deal in that depending on the line of play you choose, you encounter either a simple squeeze, an endplay, or the more exotic stepping-stone squeeze.

The double dummy analysis confirms that the given analysis is accurate.

Bridge Baron's Line of Play
After overruffing East's 10 with the jack, Bridge Baron simply drew trumps, and ran the ♣10. If East ducked, Bridge Baron endplayed East in diamonds to get an extra club trick. If East discarded diamonds, Bridge Baron secured an extra trick in diamonds. There were a couple of situations where Bridge Baron went astray, but on the whole Bridge Baron's approach was quite simplistic.
Par Contract Analysis:
The par contract is 2 by North-South.

Bridge Baron deal No : N1249-72147-48151-84036-79595-25777

You can download this deal in PPL format, and view it with Bridge Baron here :
Deal Of The Week
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