Study 6D Main

Double Squeezes

by Richard Pavlicek

Few players fully understand the double squeeze, yet the concept is not that difficult. Certain basic principles apply to all double squeezes, and this study will allow you to master the subject.

All double squeezes involve three suits that contain threats. One threat is protected solely by one opponent; a second is protected solely by the other opponent; and a third, called the common threat, is protected by both opponents. The common threat must be accompanied by an entry in its own suit. Further, declarer must be able to win all but one trick.

For discussion purposes, assume South has the common threat. The threat protected on South’s right is called the right threat, and the one protected on South’s left is called the left threat. Remember that this orientation is relative to the hand with the common threat.

If South has the common threat, North must hold the left threat. The reason is that if South also held the left threat, both threats against West would lie in front of him and, by the nature of all squeeze plays, South must part with a threat before West parts with a stopper. The right threat may be in either hand.

Based on my definitions above, a general rule is available that works for all double squeezes:

First cash all non-common-suit winners with the common threat, except if the
opposite hand has no idle card to discard, then cash its right winner first.

 Study 6D Main Top Double Squeezes

Basic Endings

The following endings illustrate the mechanics of a double squeeze. South is on lead and must win all the tricks. Identify the threats and verify that the rule works.

 1. J 2 Trick Lead 2nd 3rd 4th A 1. S A! 4 2 3 2 2. S 2 7 A Q A K 3. N K 10 3 Q K Q 4 — 4. N A ? — K Q 3 East then West squeezed 9 8 7 Q J 10 — — A 3 J 2 A 3 NT win 6 —

Cash the A (non-common-suit winner with common threat) then cross to the A to win A-K. East and West will both be squeezed on the same trick.

 2. A J Trick Lead 2nd 3rd 4th 2 1. S A 2 2 3 K 2 2. S K 5 3 9 3 2 3. S A 6 2 Q K Q 2 — 4. S 3 7 K 10 — K Q 3 5. N A ? 8 7 6 5 Q J 10 9 East is squeezed — — — A J A 4 3 NT win 7 A K

Cash the A and A-K in any order, which squeezes West out of his diamond stopper. Then cross to the K and lead the A to squeeze East.

 3. A J Trick Lead 2nd 3rd 4th A J 1. S A 3 2 3 3 2 2. S K 5 2 9 2 3. S 2 Q A 10 K Q 3 — 4. N A Q 2 ? — K Q 3 West is squeezed 8 7 6 5 Q J 10 9 — — 2 2 A K 4 NT win 7 A K

Cash A-K pitching the 2 (idle card) then the A will squeeze East, and the A will squeeze West. Each opponent has to keep his major stopper, so the 4 will win the last trick.

 4. J 2 Trick Lead 2nd 3rd 4th A J 3 1. S 2! 5 A 9 2 2. N 2! 4 A 3 A 3. S K Q 3 10 K Q 3 — 4. S 2 ? — K Q 4 West is squeezed 8 7 6 5 Q J 10 9 — — A 2 A K 3 NT win 7 K 2

Unblock the A first (to be able win South’s non-common-suit winners); return to the A (not in diamonds), cash the K (pitch idle 3) then cross to the A.

 5. A J Trick Lead 2nd 3rd 4th A J 1. S 2! 3 A 3 K 2 2. N A 4 3 Q 2 3. N 2 Q A 6 K Q 3 — 4. S K 7 J ? — K Q 4 3 East is squeezed 9 8 7 6 Q J 10 — — — 2 A 5 4 3 NT win 7 A K

This is the exception. If A-K are cashed first, North has no idle card to discard; so first cross to the A (right winner), win the A (optional) then the top clubs.

 6. A J Trick Lead 2nd 3rd 4th A J 1. S 2! 3 A 3 2 2. N 2! 10 A 7 2 3. S K 8 J! Q K Q 3 — 4. S 2 Q A ? — K Q 3 East is squeezed 9 8 7 Q J 10 — — 2 2 A 3 NT win 6 A K

Again North has no idle card to pitch on the second club, so win the A (right winner) before the top clubs. Note the A is the only remaining entry to North so must not be cashed early.

 Study 6D Main Top Double Squeezes

Example Deals

Following are four full deals that illustrate the double squeeze. Note that in Deals 7 and 9 North has the common threat, so the left and right orientation is relative to North.

 7. A K Q 2 Trick Lead 2nd 3rd 4th Q J 10 2 1. W J Q 3 4 A K 3 2. N Q 3 4 6 8 3 3. N 2 9 K 7 J 10 8 7 6 3 4. S 5 A 10 2 A 8 7 6 9 3 5. W J A 6 2 J 10 8 Q 9 6 4 6. N A 6 5 7 9 5 J 10 7 6 2 7. N K 4 9 8 9 5 4 8. N J 9 5 8 K 5 4 9. N 3 6 Q 5 7 5 2 10. S K 9 8 7 6 NT South A K Q 4 11. S A ? West is squeezed

You win the Q and attack hearts to drive out the ace. Assume West takes the third round (East pitches a club) and then switches safely to the J, won by the king. You next cash a second spade in case the 10 fell doubleton.

Let’s examine the threats: It is likely that both opponents can stop diamonds so this will be the common suit, and its threat lies in North, along with the mandatory entry. It appears that West, if anyone, protects spades (right threat). The club layout is not clear, but the odds favor the length to be with East, so that will be the left threat.

Following the rule, cash North’s remaining winners except in the common suit, which squeezes East out of his diamond stopper. Observe that it makes no difference whether you cash the top spade or the good heart first. Finally lead the top clubs to squeeze West in spades and diamonds.

An interesting point is that declarer could instead play for a simple squeeze against West in the black suits. By reaching the proper ending, 2 A-3 8 opposite 7 A-K-4, both options are preserved. In the actual case, the top clubs completed a double squeeze. If declarer thought West had the club length, he could continue with the 7 instead. The contract can always be made, but there is no lock; declarer must decide which squeeze to play for.

 8. J 10 9 Trick Lead 2nd 3rd 4th A J 4 1. W K 4 7 5 A K 10 2. W A 6 2 9 10 8 6 4 3. W 3 8 3 Q 6 K 7 5 3 4. E J 2 5 K 10 8 5 3 Q 9 7 5. N J 5 2 6 8 7 6 5 Q J 9 4 6. N 10 7 4 6 A K J 3 7 2 7. N A! 4 3 7 A Q 8 4 2 8. N 9 K A 3 K 6 2 9. S Q 8 4 9 3 2 10. S 8 ? 4 South Q 9 5 West then East squeezed

Assume West begins with three rounds of clubs, and East ruffs the third. (A heart shift at trick two would defeat the contract, but that’s hardly obvious.) East then shifts to the J, won by the king. You next win the J and 10, as East ducks and West pitches a diamond.

You know that West protects clubs, and East protects diamonds (else the J lead would be stupid). Therefore, the common suit will be hearts, and its threat must be the 6 (not the jack) because you cannot have all three threats in the same hand. Hence, clubs is the left suit, and diamonds is the right suit.

If you next led a third spade, you would fail because dummy has no idle card to discard on the last spade; i.e., you would have to part with a threat ( 10 or 10) or lose your communication in hearts. Hence the exception says to cash the A (right winner) before running the spades.

On the fourth spade you will discard a heart from dummy. On the last spade, West will be squeezed first; he must keep the J, so he gives up his heart stopper as you pitch the 10, which served its purpose. East now feels the pressure; he must keep the Q so also gives up his heart stopper. The last trick will be won by your 6 (or the two if you want to be esoteric).

The J was a mirage and nonessential for the squeeze. It did serve a purpose, however, by preventing East from shifting to hearts after ruffing the club. Any heart lead would kill the squeeze because the K must remain with the threat, and the A provides the only late entry to North since the diamonds (right winners) must be cashed early per the exception clause.

East’s shift to the J actually helped you by defining the layout. Had he returned a spade, you would probably fail, as playing West for the Q offers better odds than the double squeeze.

 9. A 8 6 3 Trick Lead 2nd 3rd 4th A 3 2 1. W K 3 9 2 6 4 3 2. W A 4 5 10 K 5 3 3. W K 3! 5 2 K Q 10 7 4 J 9 5 4. W J 3! 7 A 8 5 6 4 5. S K 5 2 4 A K Q 9 8 7 5 6. S Q 8 3 6 J 10 8 4 Q 9 7 7. S 7 4 A 7 2 8. N A! 9 2 7 K Q J 10 9 7 9. N 6 J 9 10 J 10 2 10. S J 4 6 8 4 South A 6 2 11. S 10 ? West then East squeezed

West, who bid 1 , leads K-A showing a doubleton then the K, which you duck (crucial to be able to win all but one trick). West shifts to the J, and you win the A. Draw trumps ending in dummy, cash the A (necessary per general rule) to pitch a club, ruff a spade, and finish trumps. The last trump will squeeze West then East.

Note that if West shifts to a club one trick earlier, you would fail — the loser count would be wrong for a squeeze, and if you tried to correct it by giving up a spade, a second club lead is fatal (or East could win the spade and cash his diamond).

 10. 6 5 Trick Lead 2nd 3rd 4th A 6 4 2 1. W Q 2 7 5 Q 3 2 2. W 10 4 9 K A Q J 5 3. S 2 10 J K J 8 7 3 K 10 9 2 4. E 10 Q 8 5 Q J 10 8 9 7 5. S 7 3 Q 3 10 8 5 4 7 6 6. N 2 6 A 4 10 K 9 8 6 3 7. S 9 5 Q 7 A Q 4 8. N A! 6 4 8 K 5 3 9. N 3 8 K 10 A K J 9 10. S J 7 6! 2 3 NT South 7 4 2 11. S 3 8 A ? East is squeezed

Assume it is matchpoints, so overtricks are important. Duck the first heart, win the next with the K, then finesse in clubs. Assume East wins and shifts to a spade (too late, thank you); win the Q then lead a club to dummy as West pitches a spade.

General rule is cash diamonds first, but dummy has no idle card to pitch on the last, so the exception applies: Cash the top club (right winner) before finishing diamonds.

The last diamond squeezes West out of his spade stopper, as you discard the low heart from dummy; then a heart to the ace squeezes East in the black suits. This nets two overtricks and a likely top score.

 Study 6D Main Top Double Squeezes

© 2023 Richard Pavlicek