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.

3 NT South
Both Vul
S K 3 2
H A 6 5 4
D K 3 2
C A 5 4
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
TableS 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?

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.

3 NT South 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
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
W-L
W1
L1
W2
W3
L2
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: D Q
S A 6 5 4
H K 3 2
D A 5 4
C K 3 2

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

NT win 6
Success
S 3
H A 6 5
D 3 2
C A 5
Trick
6 E
7 S
8 S
9 N
10 E
11 E
Lead
H Q
D A
H 3
H 6
C Q
C J
2nd
K
8
D 9
J
3
D 5
3rd
8
2
A
C 2
D 10
?
4th
5
7
10
C 6
5!
W-L
W1
W2
W3
L1
L2
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



East leads
S A 6
H K 3
D A 5
C 3 2
West is squeezed

If East leads a red suit, win the H K, D A, H 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 C A, H K, S 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 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 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   MainTop   The Snowflake Squeeze

© 1981 Richard Pavlicek