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Deal of the Week (Mar 09, 2007) Click here for Archives

The Auction:
West   North   East   South
                       pass    pass
pass     1       pass    1♠
pass     3♣      pass    4NT1
pass     6NT   all pass

1 - Quantitative

After three passes, partner opens the bidding with 1 and shows a powerful hand by rebidding 3♣ over your 1♠ response. What would you bid now with the South hand? This is a difficult and tricky bidding decision. Our discussion boards are working again, so we'd encourage you to express your point of view on what you'd have bid. Holding maximum values for a passed hand, it is reasonable to make a move towards slam by bidding a quantitative 4NT. Partner accepts the invitation and bids 6NT, which becomes the final contract.

West considers his opening lead, and comes up with the 10. This diabolical lead disrupts communications between your hand and dummy. On a spade or heart lead, you would have unblocked the major suit winners from dummy, crossed over to K to cash the major suit aces, and then cross back to dummy with the ♣A to cash the diamonds. The diamond lead removes your only entry to hand. Why couldn't West lead a heart, the unbid suit? Any idea on how to take 12 tricks?


 105 Deal  J972
 109753  Q62
 1073  652
 KJ2  Q86

Since the diamond lead has damaged communications, a squeeze is required to regain the lost trick. There are two possible lines:

Line 1 - Positional Squeeze against East : If East has four or more spades along with the Q, you could squeeze him by running all your diamonds. The only precaution you need to take is to rectify the count before all the diamonds are run, and this can be done by ducking a club. You can win any return, and this will be the position when the last diamond is played:

 10 Deal  J9
 109  Q6
 -  -
 K  -

If East discards a heart, you discard a spade, play the ♠Q to your Ace and cash the K, dropping the Queen. If East discards a spade, you will discard your heart from hand, overtake the ♠Q with the Ace and cash your last spade, which is now good.

Line 2 - Strip Squeeze : You can also execute a squeeze without ducking a club. You simply cash the ♣A, the ♠K, the A and all diamonds. East has to find three discards, he can spare two clubs, but cannot find a suitable discard on the last diamond. If he discards a heart, you can play a spade honor to the Ace and cash the K felling the Queen. If he discards a spade, you will overtake the ♠Q with the Ace and exit a spade to East, who has to lead into your King-Jack of hearts.

Line 2 is slightly better than Line 1, because Line 2 works even if West guards the major suit, he can be squeezed, while Line 1 works only if East holds the major suit guard. In other words, the strip squeeze is automatic rather than positional. Here is the end position if West holds the major suit guards:

 J97 Deal  10
 Q6  109
 -  -
 -  K

You play the last diamond and discard a spade. If West discards a heart, the Q will fall under your King. If he discards a spade, you will overtake the ♠Q with the Ace, exit a spade and watch East play into your heart tenace.

There is one potential trouble with this line - you have to watch the discards carefully to figure out which player is getting squeezed. If a player bares the Queen of Hearts, it will be difficult to read the position. In practice, most of the time the defender will be reluctant to come down to the Q alone, and you can plan to throw him in with the spade to collect two heart tricks. Of course, players of different calibers will react differently in this situation. An expert player is likely to bare his Q smoothly, while an average player might hem and haw, giving away the show. So which of the two lines is better? Since there is a considerable human element involved in Line 2 even though it provides an extra chance, we will let you be the judge on this one.

Visualizing possible layouts for a potential squeeze is not an easy task by any means. The ♠Q was a distraction along the way; if this was a small spade instead, then it would be far easier to observe that a squeeze is the only way to yield an extra trick after the diamond lead.

Bridge Baron's double dummy solver was instrumental in pointing out the strip squeeze as a possible solution, and also confirmed that the positional squeeze would work when East has spade length and the Q.
Par Contract Analysis:
The par contract on this deal is 6NT by North-South.

Bridge Baron deal No : N1393-93919-53095-14240-98846-73170

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