Thursday, July 2, 2015

Somehow we landed in 6NT (part two)

My title quotes that of one of my favorite David Bird books, one which certainly contributed in its way to helping me make the hand in the story below. See also Somehow we landed in 6NT.

I've always been a fan of squeezes. To me, they seem relatively easy. And, because many players think they are something esoteric and don't bother to learn about them, I'm pretty much guaranteed a good board whenever I can find one. The other thing I like about them, and this is really important for me,  is that most of them don't require good card-reading skills. And, generally speaking, once the play is in motion, you don't have to make any decisions at the end. Either it's there for the overtrick, or it's not and you end up with the same number of tricks you always had.

But, while there are many exotic squeezes out there, including the famous backwash squeeze, the bread-and-butter squeezes are relatively easy to recognize and execute. But of these, the ultimate in my opinion is the progressive triple squeeze. I thought it unlikely I would ever get to play one. But all that changed at a recent tournament session. Even then, it required some fairly dreadful over-bidding by my side (mainly my own) and some helpful defensive errors by the opponents before the squeeze trick. That being so, I'm going to deliberately obfuscate the hand to protect the identities of the players. Watch the play unfold from my point of view:

Almost any lead but the one chosen, the jack of clubs, would have scuttled any chance of making the hand. Even so, I could only count eight top tricks after knocking out the DA. At trick two, I can legitimately make the hand by finessing the S9, but I didn't. That line gives rise to a double-squeeze at the end, with hearts the pivot suit. At trick four, East erred by pitching a diamond. He could have recovered by holding up the DA at trick five, but these things are not so obvious in the heat of the battle. The return of a heart was interesting. Surely, East wouldn't lead away from the queen so I rose with the ace. After the first six tricks have been played, and having found the diamond jack, my prospects were looking a bit brighter--I had ten tricks. At this point, I see a chance. If West does indeed have the HQ in addition to the KT of clubs and the SJ, he will be triple-squeezed when I play off the diamonds.  Not only that but the conditions would be perfect for a (two-trick-gaining) progressive squeeze. But for that to work, I must have both round suit threats in the dummy along with the squeeze card (D5), along with the spade threat in hand. Thus the other high heart had to be cashed before crossing to dummy. That of course caters to a possible doubleton queen also.

At trick nine, the squeeze card, D5, is played and you can see that West has no good option. In a progressive triple squeeze, it's usually best to concede the suit that promotes an honor in the opposite hand. That prevents the progression. But in this five-card ending, the hand opposite the squeeze card has an extended menace in spades and thus there is no defense. Here is the whole hand:

Note that in the more normal contract of 4S, there can be no squeeze since there is no possible way of denying West his rightful trump trick, at least not unless you peek and finesse the nine.

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