Main     Puzzle 7F14 by Richard Pavlicek    

The Snowflake Squeeze

Like the classic snowflake design, this deal is symmetrical. As South, imagine that you are declarer in 3 NT, the obvious contract with 28 combined HCP, no eight-card fit and two flat hands. Also apparent is that no suit breaks evenly, as the enemy hands are symmetrically lopsided.

Problem
3 NT S K 3 2
H A 6 5 4
D K 3 2
C A 5 4
Both Vul

West

Pass


North
1 C
3 NT


East
Pass
All Pass


South
2 NT
S Q J 10 9
H 8 7
D Q J 10 9 8
C 7 6
Table S 8 7
H Q J 10 9
D 7 6
C Q J 10 9 8
Lead: ? S A 6 5 4
H K 3 2
D A 5 4
C K 3 2

The question is: Who wins? With best play all-around (West can lead what he wants) can declarer win a ninth trick? Or can the defense always prevent it?

A ninth trick could materialize in only one way, so the question could also be stated: Can declarer develop a successful squeeze against any defense?

TopMain

Solution

Declarer wins. Suppose West leads a diamond. Curiously, this must be won by the king in dummy. A spade is ducked, and West does best to switch to a club, which must be won by the king in hand. Win the S K (optional) then duck a heart to East.

Solution
3 NT S K 3 2
H A 6 5 4
D K 3 2
C A 5 4
Trick
1. W
2. N
3. W
4. S
5. N
W 3 L 2
Lead
D Q
S 2
C 7
S 5
H 4
2nd
K
7
4
10
9
3rd
6
4
8
K
2
4th
4
9
K
8
7
S Q J 10 9
H 8 7
D Q J 10 9 8
C 7 6
Table S 8 7
H Q J 10 9
D 7 6
C Q J 10 9 8
S A 6 5 4
H K 3 2
D A 5 4
C K 3 2

East now has the privilege (see ending) to decide which defender will be squeezed. If he leads a red suit, win the D A; H K; H A; lose a heart; duck a club then win the C A, squeezing West. If East instead leads a club, win the C A; H K; S A; lose a spade; duck a diamond then win the D A, squeezing East. Note that in either case the squeeze card is led by a defender and won by declarer in fourth hand. East
leads
S 3
H A 6 5
D 3 2
C A 5
S Q J
H 8
D J 10 9 8
C 6
Table S
H Q J 10
D 7
C Q J 10 9
S A 6
H K 3
D A 5
C 3 2

Variation: If West leads anything but a club at Trick 3, win the D A, H K and S K (in any order) then duck a heart to East. With West isolated, it is easy to duck another heart and club to squeeze West.

What about a different opening lead? If West leads a spade, declarer ducks, then the play follows one of the preceding lines, except declarer cashes the D K on his own. If West leads a club or a heart, the play, like the deal, is symmetrical — just swap West with East, spades with hearts, and diamonds with clubs.

Curiosity: If either E-W minor suit is altered in any way (e.g., Q-J-10-9-7 opp. 8-6) the defense can always prevail. (Major-suit holdings are irrelevant.)

TopMain

© 1993 Richard Pavlicek