Puzzle 7F14 Main

# The Snowflake Squeeze

by Richard Pavlicek

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.

 North deals K 3 2 West North East South A 6 5 4 1 Pass 2 NT K 3 2 Pass 3 NT Pass Pass A 5 4 Pass Q J 10 9 8 7 8 7 Q J 10 9 Q J 10 9 8 7 6 7 6 Q J 10 9 8 A 6 5 4 K 3 2 A 5 4 3 NT South 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?

 Puzzle 7F14 Main Top The Snowflake Squeeze

## 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 K (optional) then duck a heart to East.

 3 NT South K 3 2 Trick Lead 2nd 3rd 4th A 6 5 4 1. W Q K! 6 4 K 3 2 2. N 2 7 4 9 A 5 4 3. W 7 4! 8 K! Q J 10 9 8 7 4. S 5 10 K 8 8 7 Q J 10 9 5. N 4 9 2 7 Q J 10 9 8 7 6 continued below… 7 6 Q J 10 9 8 A 6 5 4 K 3 2 A 5 4 K 3 2

East now has the privilege to decide which defender will be squeezed:

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

If East leads a red suit, win the K, A, A, lose a heart, and duck the club return. The next club squeezes West in the pointed suits.

If East instead leads a club in the 8-card ending, win the A, K, A, lose a spade, and duck the diamond return. The next diamond squeezes East in the rounded suits. Note that in either case the squeeze card is led by a defender and won by dummy or declarer after the victim is squeezed.

### Variations

If West leads anything but a club at Trick 3, win the A, K and 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 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 of the defenders’ minor-suit holdings 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.)

 Puzzle 7F14 Main Top The Snowflake Squeeze