Column 7B14   Main

The Squeeze Is Off

  by Richard Pavlicek

If today’s deal looks familiar, it should be. It appeared in last Sunday’s article, “The Squeeze Is On.” I explained how South could make his small slam in spades on a squeeze play against East.

The play began with a diamond lead to East’s ace and a diamond return, South winning the king. By leading all of his black-suit winners, declarer can win the remaining tricks since East is forced to part with his stopper in either diamonds or hearts. If you missed the last column, play it out to verify that it can be made.

Is there any defense to a squeeze play? Well, in baseball a manager might call for a pitchout if he expected the opposing team was planning a squeeze. In bridge, the counterpart to the pitchout is the ducking play. Put yourself in the East chair after partner leads the diamond eight against six spades.

6 S South
Both Vul
S K Q 7 2
H A K Q 5
D 6 5 3
C K 5

1 NT
4 S
5 D
3 S
4 NT
6 S
S 6 5 4
H 10 2
D 8 7 4
C J 9 8 6 3
TableS 3
H J 9 7 6
D A Q J 10
C 10 7 4 2

Lead: D 8
S A J 10 9 8
H 8 4 3
D K 9 2

With declarer marked for the missing aces, it is obvious that partner cannot hold any significant high cards. The only hope to beat the slam is to take two diamond tricks. You can count 11 tricks for declarer — five spades, three hearts, one diamond, and two clubs.

Remembering your lesson on squeeze plays, you see a grave danger ahead (dummy’s heart holding is ominous). You realize that declarer is most likely to succeed when he can win all but one of the remaining tricks. That will be the case if you win the first trick. Therefore, you duck the diamond lead to South.

After this thoughtful play, declarer is foiled. He must win the king, after which he will run all of his black suits. But now the pressure is slackened and East can survive the ending. The last five cards in dummy will be four hearts and a diamond; East just keeps the same five cards and he must win two tricks.

This deal illustrates how bridge, like baseball, is a game of inches. The squeeze play in either game is a dynamic weapon — sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t.

Column 7B14   MainTop   The Squeeze Is Off

© 1984 Richard Pavlicek