Main     Puzzle 8K81 by Richard Pavlicek    

Seesaw Recall

PavCo playground sets manufactured in 2013 (bearing the RPbridge label) have been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. More specifically, they claim a defective spring mechanism in the seesaw fulcrum could launch a rider 25 feet into the air. But that’s bullshit! I tightened the nuts myself, and it’s 20 feet tops. Besides, anyone knows you ride a seesaw at your own risk. I’ll beat this rap! Trust me while I change the subject to bridge.

The seesaw, or entry-shifting squeeze, is one of the lesser known varieties in the vast jungle of squeezes. While hardly a common occurrence, it arises more often than most people realize, because the great majority of opportunities go unnoticed. Typically it provides a solution when a crossruff is destined to fail, as in the following four-card ending.

S win 4 S A 3
H
D 10 2
C
Leader
1. S
2. N
Lead
S K!
D 2
2nd
D J
3
3rd
A!
S 2
4th
Q
Q
S
H Q J
D Q J
C
Table S Q
H
D 3
C 3 2
South
leads
S K 2
H 10 2
D
C

East’s S Q prevents a routine crossruff, so it must be drawn to have any chance. Alas, this leaves declarer a trick short, but a seesaw springs to the rescue (20 feet tops, you can bank on it). South leads the S K, which forces West to weaken one of his stoppers. If he lets go a heart, one ruff establishes the H 10. If he lets go a diamond, declarer overtakes the S K with dummy’s ace, and one ruff establishes the D 10. Either way, declarer wins all four tricks.

The seesaw squeeze can also occur at notrump, but there it’s a rare bird. The ending is of the outer-space variety that seldom occurs — and even when it could occur, sound play early on will usually produce a simpler ending amenable to ordinary technique. Nonetheless, it provides a worthwhile study (unlike the CPSC morons). Consider the following ending, in which declarer needs five of the six tricks.

NT win 5 S A 10 6
H 5
D
C K 2
Leader
1. S
2. S
3. S
Lead
C A!
H A
H 6
2nd
H J
Q
3rd
K!
5
4th
S 2
2
S K Q J
H K Q J
D
C
Table S 4 3 2
H 4 3 2
D
C
South
leads
S 5
H A 10 6
D
C A Q

West alone protects both majors, but he can’t be squeezed in traditional fashion because the count is not rectified; and if declarer ducks a spade or heart to rectify the count, West will return the opposite major to kill declarer’s entries. No squeeze, save the seesaw. South leads the C A, and West must release his double stopper in one of the majors. If he pitches a spade, dummy follows with a low club, and the long spade is established with the C K entry. If West pitches a heart, declarer unblocks the C K, shifting the entry to his own C Q, then the long heart is established. Easy game, this bridge; when your chances look grim, just haul out a teeter-totter (PavCo brand of course).

Did you notice a difference in the two examples? In the first case with spades trump, declarer won all the remaining tricks. But in notrump the seesaw is always a secondary squeeze, because a trick must be lost after the squeeze. Always? Inquiring minds need to know, which brings me to the puzzle challenge:

Construct an ending where North-South can win all the tricks in notrump by virtue of a seesaw squeeze.

To be a valid solution, the entry shift must be essential (no alternate path to success) and it must be in the squeeze suit itself; i.e., jettison squeezes where a blocking card is discarded are a different genre and unacceptable. The ending may be any number of tricks, as long as North-South win them all.

Give it a try before reading further.

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Leigh Matheson Wins!

In December 2014 this puzzle was presented as a challenge, inviting anyone interested to submit a solution. Response was underwhelming to say the least, with all of four entries. Hopefully this was due to difficulty rather than disinterest, but no matter how you slice it I’m fading fast. Several years ago I joked about becoming “undefined” if participation hit zero; now I wonder if it was a joke.

Thanks and congratulations to Leigh Matheson of Sydney, Australia, who was the only correct solver. Leigh is a past contributor and winner of my Right-Sided Spades contest a few years back.

Solution

In order to add some realism to the puzzle, suppose you reach 7 NT as South on the following deal. Suffice it to say the bidding wasn’t pretty, but there you are. West leads the D J.

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

Assume you win three top diamonds pitching two hearts, two top clubs, and run the S Q which West must duck (else you have 13 tricks). This leaves the following ending with South on lead.

The C Q now squeezes West in three suits. Suppose he pitches a diamond, since East can guard diamonds; North follows low; the S J wins; a club to dummy squeezes West out of a heart; then the S A squeezes East in the red suits. If West instead pitches a heart, North unblocks the C 10; then the S J is overtaken to run the H J, making the South hand high with the C 9 entry. Of course if West pitches a spade, you easily have the rest by saving the C 10 entry and running the S J. South
leads
S A 10 9
H J
D 2
C 10 4
S K 8 7
H 10 5 4
D 10
C
Table S 5 4
H Q 3 2
D 7
C J
S J
H A K 9 8
D
C Q 9

Evidently this bizarre seesaw requires three threats against West, one of which (hearts) is extended and none of which contains a fluid entry in its own suit — observe that both major-suit entries are obfuscated by a blocked finesse. Further, East must have an annoyance card in the squeeze suit to restrict communication. The last may not be obvious, but without the C J no seesaw is necessary; declarer could run the S J, cross to North in clubs (squeezing West out of a diamond), cash the S A pitching a club, then lead the last club for a double squeeze.

Down under variation

Leigh Matheson’s construction contained essentially the same elements, however, he put the bare threat in South. Hmm… Could this be a hemisphere thing? To accommodate the switch, available space required North to have an extra winner instead of South. [Suits changed to parallel my ending]

NT win 7 S A K 10 4
H Q
D
C Q 10
Leader
1. S
Lead
C A
2nd
?
3rd 4th
S Q 9 8 7
H J 10
D A
C
Table S 6 5
H K 8
D K Q
C K
South
leads
S J
H A 9 7
D J
C A J

Leigh Matheson: To score all the tricks in notrump South must lead the C A [and play the C 10 or C Q according to West’s discard].

The play is similar. If West pitches a diamond, North follows low; then the spade finesse is taken followed by a club to the queen squeezing a heart from West; then the top spades squeeze East. If West instead pitches a heart, declarer unblocks the C Q, wins two spades (no finesse) to pitch a diamond, then runs the H Q, eventually returning to hand in clubs. If West pitches a spade, declarer easily has the rest by following low in clubs and running the S J.

So there you have it, folks: a seesaw squeeze for all the tricks in notrump, with two variations on the same theme. Perhaps there are others. If anyone discovers a significantly different matrix, please advise.

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© 2014 Richard Pavlicek