Main   Study 6K by Richard Pavlicek  

Squeeze Defense

It’s time to turn the tables on declarer! Too many times, a skillful declarer has the edge in the endgame due to his knowledge of squeeze plays, and the sad truth is that he is usually aided by soft defense. Read on, and your defensive skills may catch up.

Each of these 32 deals illustrates one or more crucial defensive plays to foil an impending squeeze by declarer. Key plays are shown with an exclamation point (!) and dubious plays are shown with a question mark (?).

The deals are arranged in standard format with South always declarer and West the opening leader.

Upset transportation

1. None Vul3 S SouthS K 9 3TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H Q 101 WD K275
WestNorthEastSouthD 6 4 3 22 WD A39J
Pass2 SC A 10 8 43 WD 84QS 5
PassPassDblPassS 10 4TableS 7 24 SH 5!610J
3 H3 SAll PassH 8 6 4 2H A K J 35 ES 2!610K
D A K 10 8D Q 9 76 NH QK72
C K 6 5C J 9 7 27 ES 7!J43
S A Q J 8 6 5Lose 1 more trick
H 9 7 5
D J 5
Down 1C Q 3

East must lead a trump each time he wins a heart, else declarer will have the entries to ruff his heart and squeeze West in the minors. The trump leads force declarer to ruff the last diamond, killing the threat.


Prevent rectification of count

2. E-W Vul5 C SouthS K 6 4 2TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H 7 61 WH 46J!A
WestNorthEastSouthD A 10 22 SC Q25K
1 CC A 9 8 53 ED K!83A
Pass1 SPass2 CS 8 3TableS J 10 9 54 NC A43H 2
Pass3 CPass3 SH Q 10 8 4 2H K J 9 35 NC 9H 36D 4
Pass5 CAll PassD 9 6 5 4 3D K Q 76 NC 8H 9JD 5
C 2C K 47 SC 10D 6H 7D 7
S A Q 78 SC 7D 9D 2H K!
H A 5Lose 2 more tricks
D J 8
Down 1C Q J 10 7 6 3

If East cashes his heart trick when he wins the C K, he will later be squeezed in spades and diamonds. The early diamond shift foils declarer by leaving him with two losers.

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Attack proper entry

3. Both Vul3 NT SouthS 4 2TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H Q 21 WS 52K7
WestNorthEastSouthD 5 4 22 ES 3!10J4
1 NTC A K 7 6 4 33 WS 9!D 2AQ
Pass3 NTAll PassS J 9 6 5TableS A K 8 34 ES 8H 36D 4
H K 7 6 5H J 10 9 85 ED 6!
D K 10 3D J 8 6Lose 1 more trick
C 10 5C 8 2
S Q 10 7
H A 4 3
D A Q 9 7
Down 1C Q J 9

If West won the fourth spade, or if East failed to shift to a diamond at Trick 5, declarer could succeed by squeezing West in the red suits. Also note that if the defenders cashed only three spades, declarer could succeed by an endplay regardless of the shift.


Remove dummy’s only entry

4. E-W Vul4 H SouthS A K Q 2TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H K Q J1 WC K7104
WestNorthEastSouthD 5 4 22 WC A825
1 NTPass3 H1C J 8 73 WC QJS 39
Pass4 HAll PassS J 9 4TableS 10 8 7 6 34 WS J!A65
1. not a Jacoby fanH 5 4 3H 7 65 NH K625
D 7 6D K Q 9 36 NH Q783
C A K Q 6 3C 10 27 NH JD 3A?4
S 58 SH 10S 4D 2D 9
H A 10 9 8 29 SH 9S 9!D 4S 7!
D A J 10 8Lose 1 more trick
Down 1C 9 5 4

If West makes the “obvious shift” to a diamond, East would later be squeezed in spades and diamonds. East’s spade discard is a big clue (surely from five with four in dummy) so West can break declarer’s communication with one spade lead. Note the lead of the S J, just in case South had a stiff 10.


Timing assault and jettison

5. N-S Vul3 S SouthS Q 9 4TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H J 7 21 WH 32104
WestNorthEastSouthD 10 7 5 32 ES 6!724
1 H1 SC A Q 43 SH 5C 5JA
Dbl2 SPassPassS 3 2TableS 10 6 54 ES 5!839
3 CPassPass3 SH 3H A K Q 10 65 ND 39A6
All PassD K 8 6 4D Q J 96 SD 245J
C K J 10 9 5 3C 7 67 ES 10!KC 3Q
S A K J 8 78 SS AC 9H 7H 6
H 9 8 5 49 SS JD K!D 7C 6
D A 210 SC 210Q7
Down 1C 8 2Win 1 more trick

One slip anywhere and West would get squeezed. Note the early trump leads were necessary to stop a heart ruff. Especially note West’s discard at Trick 9: If he threw his low diamond, declarer could set up the long diamond while keeping East off lead; but West knows East has the D Q.

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Kill future winner, remove entry

6. N-S Vul4 H SouthS Q J 8 3TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H Q 21 WS K356
WestNorthEastSouthD A 8 5 32 WS 10!JH 77
2 SPassPass3 HC A J 53 EC K62A
Pass3 NTPass4 HS A K 10 9 4 2TableS 54 NH Q643
All PassH 3H J 7 65 NC 510H K7
D Q 9 6D K 7 46 SH AS 22J
C 9 7 2C K Q 10 8 4 37 SD J6!3K
S 7 68 ED 7!29A
H A K 10 9 8 5 4Lose 1 more trick
D J 10 2
Down 1C 6

West can read East’s spade as a singleton, so he allows East to ruff the second spade to kill any chance of declarer establishing a spade trick. When East wins the D K, he must return a diamond (not a passive club) else West would be squeezed in the end.


Guard correct suit

7. None Vul4 S SouthS Q J 10 8TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H A 7 4 21 WH Q25K
WestNorthEastSouthD 4 32 SH 3JA6
Pass1 NTC A 8 23 NH 49S K10
Pass2 CPass2 SS 7 4TableS 6 5 34 SS 24Q3
Pass4 SAll PassH Q J 10 8H 9 6 55 NH 7D 2!S A8
D Q 9 8 6D J 10 26 SS 97105
C K 10 6C Q J 7 57 NS J6C 3C 6!
S A K 9 28 NS 8C 7C 4C 10!
H K 39 ND 3J56
D A K 7 5Lose 1 more trick
Made 5C 9 4 3

Declarer embarks on a clever line of play that would secure two overtricks against many West players. The big clue is East’s first discard of the D 2, which suggests that West must hold his diamonds at all costs.


Break link, guard correct suit

8. N-S Vul6 NT SouthS K 3TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H A K 8 6 5 21 WS JK54
WestNorthEastSouthD Q J 32 NH 24QJ
1 HPass1 SC K J3 SD 42Q6!
Pass3 HPass4 NTS J 10 9TableS Q 8 5 24 ND J9!57
Pass5 H1Pass6 NTH J 10 9 7H 4 35 ND 3A108
All PassD 8 7 2D A 9 66 ES 2A93
1. 2 key cardsC 10 9 3C 8 6 5 47 SD KC 3H 5S 8
S A 7 6 48 SC 29K6
H Q9 NH K3S 610
D K 10 5 410 NH AS Q!
Down 1C A Q 7 2Lose 1 more trick

Declarer could succeed at double-dummy (cash the H A-K and unblock the C K-J before leading the third diamond), but he could never go wrong if East took his D A on the first or second round. In the end, East must hold tight to his four clubs, as insignificant as they might seem.

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Prevent rectification of count

9. None Vul3 NT SouthS K 9 4 3TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H K 10 51 WD JQK6
WestNorthEastSouthD Q 32 ED 2793
1 NTC K 9 4 33 WD 4C 38A
Pass2 CPass2 DS 10 7TableS Q J 5 24 SC Q24A
Pass3 NTAll PassH 8 7 6 2H Q J 95 EC 6!75K
D J 10 9 4D K 8 5 26 NC 9S 2J8
C 8 5 2C A 67 SC 10H 2S 3D 5!
S A 8 6Lose 2 more tricks
H A 4 3
D A 7 6
Down 1C Q J 10 7

If East leads his fourth diamond after winning the C A, he will later be squeezed in the major suits; but this should be obvious in view of his holdings. The passive club return foils declarer. Note that East must not shift to the H Q, else he could be endplayed.


Retain winners, evade endplay

10. N-S Vul3 NT SouthS A K Q 7 2TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H 3 21 WH 5210Q
WestNorthEastSouthD J 32 SS 46AJ
Pass1 DC K Q 7 53 NS K853
1 H1 SPass2 DS 6 3TableS J 10 9 84 NS Q9D 5D 2!
Pass3 CPass3 NTH A K 9 5 4H 10 7 65 NC 53A2
All PassD K 2D 10 7 46 SC 68K4
C J 10 8 2C 9 4 37 NC Q9D 6J
S 5 48 NH 3?689
H Q J 8Lose 4 more tricks
D A Q 9 8 6 5
Down 1C A 6

West can foresee his discarding problem and lets go the D 2 on the third spade with no apparent agony. Also note his play in clubs, trying to paint a wrong picture for declarer. If West began with 3-3 in the minors, declarer’s play at Trick 8 would be right.


Establish then kill threat

11. N-S Vul4 H SouthS A Q 3TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H Q J 31 WD K326
WestNorthEastSouthD 10 8 7 32 WD A74Q
1 HC K 5 33 WD J!85H 2
DblRdbl1 SPassS 10 9 2TableS J 8 6 54 SH 7A!36
Pass3 HPass4 HH A 4H 9 6 55 WD 910H 5H 8
All PassD A K J 9D 5 4 2Lose 1 more trick
C Q 9 8 7C 10 6 4
S K 7 4
H K 10 8 7 2
D Q 6
Down 1C A J 2

After North foolishly raises hearts instead of bidding 3 NT, West must defend well to benefit. Diamonds are continued, temporarily establishing the D 10 in dummy, which is erased completely when West wins the H A. Failure to do this would allow declarer to squeeze West in the minors, which is indicated (versus the club finesse) on the auction.

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Prevent rectification of count

12. None Vul3 NT SouthS 10 8 3TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H K 10 71 WS 43Q7
WestNorthEastSouthD K Q 4 32 ES 6A28
1 NTC K 7 63 SD 27KJ
Pass3 NTAll PassS K J 9 4 2TableS Q 6 54 ND Q85C 4
H 6 5 4H Q J 9 25 NS 10!5C 2J
D 7D J 10 9 86 WS 9!D 3C 3H 3
C Q J 8 4C 5 37 WH 6!79A
S A 7Lose 2 more tricks
H A 8 3
D A 6 5 2
Down 1C A 10 9 2

West must not cash his 5th spade, else East would become squeezed in hearts and diamonds. The heart exit (not a club) at Trick 7 is indicated by East’s C 3 discard. Also note that if East were to signal with the H 9 (ouch), he could later be endplayed.


Duck to prevent Vienna coup

13. None Vul6 H SouthS 7TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H A 9 5 41 WS K73A
WestNorthEastSouthD A K Q 92 SH QS 543!
4 SDblPass5 HC A 8 7 53 SS 46H A8
Pass6 HAll PassS K Q J 10 6 5 2TableS 9 8 34 NH 5K2S 2
HH K 10 35 EH 10!JS 109
D 7 6D J 10 8 5 3Lose 1 more trick
C J 9 6 2C K 3
S A 4
H Q J 8 7 6 2
D 4 2
Down 1C Q 10 4

East’s holdup in hearts may look pointless, but it’s a crucial play. East can see the danger of being squeezed in the minors if South has the C Q; but for this squeeze to work, declarer must cash the C A (Vienna coup) before running his trumps. Careful defense prevents this.


Duck to foil count rectification

14. None Vul3 NT SouthS A K 3 2TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H Q J 31 WS J24Q
WestNorthEastSouthD 10 7 22 SC 62103!
1 CPass1 HC K J 103 ND 23Q6
Pass1 SPass2 NTS J 10 9 7 6TableS 8 44 SC 7QK4!
Pass3 NTAll PassH 10 4H 7 6 5 2Lose 2 tricks
D J 9 6 5D K 3
C Q 2C A 8 5 4 3
S Q 5
H A K 9 8
D A Q 8 4
Made 5C 9 7 6

Since East cannot guard either spades or diamonds, it is apparent that West might be squeezed. Ducking the first two clubs prevents declarer from rectifying the count for the squeeze. If East took his C A earlier, declarer would fall into 12 easy tricks.

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Prevent isolation of threat

15. E-W Vul6 H× SouthS A 9 2TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H A Q 51 WD QKH 25
WestNorthEastSouthD A K 6 42 EH 3!4C 9!A
1 DPass1 HC Q 10 33 NC 3!4!H 62
Pass2 NTPass3 SS 6 5 4TableS J 8 7Lose 1 more trick
Pass4 HPass5 CHH 8 7 3 2
Pass5 DPass6 HD Q J 9 7 3 2D
PassPassDblAll PassC K J 9 2C A 8 7 6 5 4
S K Q 10 3
H K J 10 9 6 4
D 10 8 5
Down 1C

After doubling for a diamond lead and getting a ruff, many Easts would panic and try to cash the C A. Ouch! West would then be squeezed in the minor suits. East should foresee this (especially considering South’s 5 C bid) and stay cool with a safe trump return. Also note that East must duck the club lead from dummy.


Duck to disturb squeeze order

16. Both Vul6 NT SouthS A 6TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H 9 81 WC J25Q
WestNorthEastSouthD A K Q 4 22 SH K286
1 CC K 7 6 23 SH Q394!
Pass2 DPass2 HS Q 9 7TableS J 10 8 24 SH J7D 2A
Pass3 CPass4 NTH 7 3 2H A 6 5 45 EH 5!10D 5C 6
Pass5 HPass6 NTD 7 6 5D J 10 9 8Lose 1 more trick
All PassC J 10 9 8C 5
S K 5 4 3
H K Q J 10
D 3
Down 1C A Q 4 3

After forcing out the H A, declarer has a double-squeeze position (West guards clubs, East diamonds, and both spades), but the order of play is delicate. To succeed, declarer must cash the top diamonds before leading his last heart. East can foil this by ducking twice and returning his last heart immediately, which in effect squeezes dummy.


Holdup and attack dual entry

17. None Vul6 NT SouthS A Q J 2TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H A 10 21 WD 1045A
WestNorthEastSouthD J 42 SS 38J4!
1 DC Q 9 4 23 ND J632
Pass1 SPass2 NTS 10 8 7 6TableS K 5 44 NC 28A3
Pass4 CPass4 SH 8 7 5H Q J 95 SS 910QK
Pass6 NTAll PassD 10 9 8 2D 7 6 56 EH Q!
C 6 3C J 10 8 7Lose 1 more trick
S 9 3
H K 6 4 3
D A K Q 3
Down 1C A K 5

East can see that he may be squeezed in hearts and clubs; and even if West can help in hearts, there is a potential double squeeze since West will have to guard dummy’s fourth spade. To defeat this form of double squeeze it is necessary to kill the spade and heart entries to dummy, which can only be done by ducking the first spade and shifting to a heart later.

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Holdup, attack dummy’s entry

18. Both Vul6 S SouthS 5 3 2TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H K Q 7 6 41 WC 62QA
WestNorthEastSouthD A 22 SS A724
Pass2 CC 10 7 23 SS KC 5310
Pass2 HPass2 SS 7TableS 10 44 SH 25KJ!
Pass3 SPass4 CH 5 3H A J 10 95 NS 5D 3QC 4
Pass4 DPass4 NTD K 8 5 4D J 10 7 6 36 SH 83QA
Pass5 DPass6 SC J 9 8 6 5 4C Q 37 ED J!QKA
All PassS A K Q J 9 8 6Lose 1 more trick
H 8 2
D Q 9
Down 1C A K

East must duck the first heart lead, else he could be squeezed in hearts and diamonds (the D 9 becomes a threat after the jack is covered all around). Further, East must shift to the D J to break up a squeeze against West in the minors. At double-dummy, declarer could succeed in a bizarre “losing squeeze card” ending, but that’s only for your dreams.


Deceptive pitch, evade endplay

19. Both Vul3 H SouthS Q 4 3TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H 6 51 WD K2A3
WestNorthEastSouthD 9 7 6 5 22 ED Q845
PassPass1 DDblC J 10 43 ED J!H 10H J6
Pass1 SPass3 HS 10 9 7 5TableS A J 8 64 WS 1036K
All PassH J 8 7H 3 25 SH A752
D K 4D A Q J 106 SH K863
C 9 6 5 2C Q 8 77 SH QC 2D 7C 7!
S K 28 SH 9S 5D 9D 10
H A K Q 10 9 49 SH 4C 5S 4S J!
D 8 310 SC K648
Down 1C A K 311 SS 2?7QA

From East’s point of view, South should have all of the missing high cards, so ducking the spade at Trick 4 was essential to deny declarer an entry to dummy for the club finesse. Alas, declarer now can succeed by a squeeze throw-in if he guesses right. East’s best chance is to unguard the C Q early, then discard the S J (keeping A-8) and hope declarer opts for the throw-in.


Abandon suit to foil resqueeze

20. None Vul7 NT SouthS A 3 2TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H K Q 5 31 WS QA46
WestNorthEastSouthD A 9 8 22 NC A392
1 NTC A 63 NC 67K4
Pass2 CPass2 DS Q J 10TableS 8 7 5 44 SC Q5D 28
Pass4 C1Pass4 HH J 10 9 6H 7 25 SC JD 4S 2H 2
Pass5 C2Pass7 NT3D K 6 4D J 7 5 36 SC 10H 6!D 8S 5
All PassC 5 4 2C 8 7 37 SH 49Q7
1. GerberS K 9 68 NH 3S 7A10
2. asking for kingsH A 8 49 SH 8JKS 8
3. asking for miraclesD Q 1010 NH 5D 3D 10D 6!
Down 1C K Q J 10 9Lose 1 trick

The bidding is a bit crazy, but that’s not your problem. As West you have to decide which stopper to give up on the last club. As the only real hope, assume East has the D J (if South had it he could succeed even without the S 9), which gives declarer 11 tricks. West must release the suit guarded behind him (hearts) which surrenders 12 tricks and no more. If West gave up his spade or diamond stopper, the squeeze would repeat for all 13.

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Attack correct dual entry

21. None Vul4 S SouthS A J 3TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H 8 6 5 31 WH K379
WestNorthEastSouthD K 10 42 WH A54J
1 SC K 10 23 WH 26S 4Q
DblRdbl2 CPassS 8TableS 7 6 5 44 ED 6!2QK
Pass2 SPass4 SH A K 10 2H 7 4Lose 1 more trick
All PassD Q 8 7 5D J 9 6
C Q 8 7 6C J 9 5 3
S K Q 10 9 2
H Q J 9
D A 3 2
Down 1C A 4

After ruffing the third heart, East’s return may seem immaterial, but it matters a lot. Dummy has a heart threat against West, which might lead to a compound squeeze. They key is to attack the suit in which South holds a threat, removing the crucial dual entry. Based on the takeout double, this suit is likely to be diamonds. Note that declarer can succeed against any other shift.


Deceptive pitch, evade endplay

22. None Vul3 NT SouthS K J 7 2TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H 8 5 21 WH 92JK
WestNorthEastSouthD 8 5 22 SS A825
1 H1 NTC A Q 43 SS 39K6
Pass3 NTAll PassS 10 9 8TableS 6 54 NS 7C 6!Q10
H 9 4H A Q J 7 65 SS 4C 2JD 3
D 9 6 4D Q J 10 36 ND 2JK4
C J 9 7 3 2C K 67 SD A65Q!
S A Q 4 38 SH 10?45Q
H K 10 3Lose 4 more tricks
D A K 7
Down 1C 10 8 5

East is doomed if declarer guesses right, so he must hope for a misread. Against most declarers the best chance is to blank the C K early and falsecard in diamonds (keeping the 10). Declarer is likely to opt for the throw-in, which would be right if East began with 3-3 in the minors.


Guard correct suit

23. E-W Vul5 D SouthS 8 6TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H K 5 41 WS 56A4
WestNorthEastSouthD A 10 92 ES 39J8
1 DC K 8 7 6 33 WH Q42A
Pass2 CPass2 DS K J 7 5 2TableS A Q 10 34 SD 42A3
Pass3 DPass3 HH Q J 9H 8 7 6 3 25 ND 98K5
Pass4 DPass5 DD 5 2D 8 36 SD QS 210S 10
All PassC 10 4 2C Q J7 SD JS 7C 3S Q
S 9 48 SD 7S KC 6H 3
H A 109 SD 6!H 9!C 7H 6
D K Q J 7 6 4Lose 1 more trick
Down 1C A 9 5

There is no real squeeze here, but a pseudo one. West must cling tight to his three clubs. Declarer is marked with the C A, and if he held just two clubs (or a stiff ace) he could establish the club suit by ruffing. Hence, South must have three clubs and only West can guard the suit.

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Pitch winners to evade endplay

24. N-S Vul3 NT SouthS A 10TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H 4 31 WH 63Q2
WestNorthEastSouthD Q J 92 EH 810J4
1 H2 C2 H3 CC A K J 9 4 33 WH KD 97A
Pass3 DPass3 NTS K J 6TableS 9 8 5 4 24 SC 28A5
All PassH K J 9 6 5H Q 8 75 NC 3S 2Q10
D A 7 2D K 8 6 46 SC 6S 6KS 4
C 10 8C 57 NC JD 87D 2
S Q 7 38 NC 9S 5S 3H 5!
H A 10 29 NC 4D 4D 3H 9!
D 10 5 3Lose 3 more tricks
Down 1C Q 7 6 2

Declarer has eight obvious tricks, and West is in danger of being squeezed and endplayed. It is crucial for West to know whether East has the S Q or the D K (if South has both West is dead) and East gives the proper message by discarding a low spade first. Hence, West must play East for the D K and throw his good hearts away to keep: S K-J and D A-x, after which declarer must fail.


Unblock and retain exit card

25. Both Vul4 S SouthS A Q JTrickLead2nd3rd4th
H A Q 10 8 61 WD J2A3
WestNorthEastSouthD 6 5 22 ES 5!72J
1 HPass1 SC 5 33 NC 3710J
Pass2 SPass4 SS 6 2TableS 5 4 34 WS 6!A38
All PassH 5 3 2H K J 9 75 NC 58A6
D J 10 9 7D A Q 46 SC 29S QQ
C K J 9 6C Q 8 77 ND 5Q!K7
S K 10 9 8 78 SS KH 2H 64
H 49 SS 10H 3H 8H 7
D K 8 310 SS 9D 9D 6H 9!
Down 2C A 10 4 211 SH 45Q?K

East can see that hearts are laying foul for declarer, so he accurately shifts to a trump at Trick 2, limiting declarer to one club ruff. Note the unblocking play at Trick 7 (else East could be thrown in with a diamond), and when declarer leads trumps East must never part with his small diamond.


Attack dummy’s only entry

26. None Vul3 NT SouthS K 6 4TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H A 10 8 7 31 WS 34A!2
WestNorthEastSouthD Q 22 ES 7!JQK
1 NTC 9 7 43 NC 42A3
Pass2 DPass2 HS Q 9 5 3TableS A 74 SD 35QA
Pass3 NTAll PassH Q J 5H 9 4 25 EH 2!K53
D 7 6 5D A J 10 86 SD 4628
C 6 5 3C J 10 8 27 EH 4!6JA
S J 10 8 2Lose 2 more tricks
H K 6
D K 9 4 3
Down 1C A K Q

The Jacoby transfer sequence marks South with only two hearts. Since East cannot protect hearts or spades, it should be apparent that West would eventually be squeezed. The key defense is for East to attack declarer’s link to dummy by leading hearts. If East leads anything else when he wins the D A, declarer can succeed.

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Duck to foil count rectification

27. Both Vul3 NT SouthS K 5 2TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H K Q J 51 WS J2Q6
WestNorthEastSouthD J 5 42 ES 3A45
1 NTC Q 6 43 SD 26J3
Pass3 NTAll PassS J 10 9 8 4TableS Q 34 ND 48KA
H 4 3H A 10 9 85 WS 8KC 57
D A 6D 10 9 8 36 NH K1024
C 10 8 7 2C J 9 57 NH Q8!63
S A 7 68 NC 49A8
H 7 6 29 SC K26J
D K Q 7 210 SC 37QH 9
Made 3C A K 3Lose 2 more tricks

East can see the danger of being squeezed in the red suits, so he must fight declarer’s effort to rectify the count. The key is to duck the first two heart leads, which holds declarer to his contract. If East took his H A on the first or second round, he would be squeezed for an overtrick.


Refuse ruff, guard correct suit

28. Both Vul6 H SouthS A 7 4 2TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H 9 7 21 WD QK72
WestNorthEastSouthD K 32 ND 3C 5!A4
1 HC A J 8 63 SD 5?JH 7H 8
Pass1 SPass4 HS Q J 10 9TableS 8 5 34 EH 5A62
Pass4 NTPass5 HH 6H 10 8 55 SH K?D 6910
Pass5 NTPass6 HD Q J 10 8 6 4D 76 SH QD 8C 6C 3
All PassC Q 9C K 10 7 5 4 37 SH JC 9C 8C 4
S K 68 SH 4C QS 2C 7
H A K Q J 4 39 SH 3S QC JC 10!
D A 9 5 210 SC 2S 9AK
Down 1C 2Lose 1 more trick

East has to make two good plays to sink declarer’s ship. First, he must refuse to ruff the second diamond lead (ruffing a low card led by declarer early in the play is rarely a wise move). Second, he must keep all of his spades, else West would be squeezed in spades and diamonds.


Kill one-threat-hand dual entry

29. None Vul6 NT SouthS 9 3TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H 6 31 WH 23J5!
WestNorthEastSouthD A 10 9 8 6 32 EC J!29A
1 D4 H4 NTC A K 43 ND 3H 4K5
Pass5 HPass5 NTS Q 7 6 5 2TableS J 8 44 SD Q76H 7
Pass6 DPass6 NT?H 2H K Q J 9 8 7 45 SD 2C 68H 8
All PassD 7 5D6 ND 10H 94S 2
C Q 9 8 7 6C J 10 57 ND AS 4!JC 7
S A K 10Lose 1 more trick
H A 10 5
D K Q J 4 2
Down 1C 3 2

South’s last bid was piggish (it was matchpoints) and he is about to get away with it if East is not sharp. The holdup at Trick 1 strongly suggests declarer has a squeeze in mind. In compound and double-squeeze positions, attacking the double entry in the hand with a single threat is almost always the best move, so East shifts to a club. Declarer could succeed against any other defense.

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Kill dual entry to ruffout threat

30. E-W Vul6 S SouthS J 10 5TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H A Q 9 21 WD 52AK
WestNorthEastSouthD 8 7 6 22 EH 10!54Q
2 CC Q 43 NS J632
Pass2 NTPass3 SS 8 2TableS 64 ND 63S A9
Pass4 HPass4 NTH K 4H J 10 8 35 SS 7810C 5
Pass5 DDbl6 SD J 9 5D A Q 10 4 36 ND 74S 9J
All PassC 10 8 7 6 3 2C J 9 5Lose 1 more trick
S A K Q 9 7 4 3
H 7 6 5
D K
Down 1C A K

Things may look cozy at Trick 1, but East is in imminent danger. Only East can protect the fourth round of diamonds, and declarer is poised for a ruffout squeeze aided by the heart finesse. It is urgent to kill one of dummy’s heart entries early to foil the squeeze. Yes, declarer might have made a brilliant play with D K-J-9 and a blank H K, but I’d rather pay off to that than the actual layout.


Commit declarer to decision

31. None Vul4 S SouthS K 7 6TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H K 6 31 WD K68A?
WestNorthEastSouthD 7 62 SS J5K2
3 DPassPass3 SC K 10 8 5 33 NS 6410D 4
Pass4 SAll PassS 5TableS Q 4 24 SS AD 57Q
H Q 5H 10 9 8 7 25 SC 4289
D K Q J 10 9 5 4D 8 26 EH 7!45K
C J 7 2C A Q 97 NH 39JQ
S A J 10 9 8 3Lose 2 more tricks
H A J 4
D A 3
Down 1C 6 4

After winning the C 9, the distribution should be obvious to East. Declarer will eventually fall into a club-heart squeeze, or in this case what is commonly called a show-up finesse. The only hope is to lead hearts early and commit declarer to a heart guess, which he is likely to get wrong. Leading the H 7, I think, is psychologically better than the 10.


Exploit error, ruin entries

32. None Vul6 H SouthS A 10 7TrickLead2nd3rd4th
H J 101 WS K7?25
WestNorthEastSouthD A 10 8 7 6 42 WH 4!102K
1 HC K 23 SC 34K6
1 S2 DPass3 HS K Q J 9 4TableS 8 3 24 NC 27A9
Pass4 NTPass5 C1H 4H 6 5 3 25 SC 5JH J8
Pass6 HAll PassD K J 2D 9 56 NS A364
1. 0 or 3 key cardsC Q J 9 4C 10 8 7 67 NS 108H 79
S 6 5Lose 1 more trick
H A K Q 9 8 7
D Q 3
Down 1C A 5 3

After West is allowed to win the first trick, he can see the danger of being squeezed in spades and diamonds. Another spade lead (or a diamond) won’t do any good since dummy has both aces, so the only hope is to ruin the communication. It is likely declarer will need to ruff a club, so a trump lead is the killer. Declarer, of course, should win the first spade, ruff his club loser and run trumps to effect a squeeze throw-in against West.

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© 1994 Richard Pavlicek