July 10th, 2005

Weekly bridge column (revised 7/19/05)


                                    TEST YOUR PLAY

                                   by Stephen Rzewski

       (from Mashpee game of 7/8/05, board #9; E-W changed to N-S for convenience)

				                  
                                        North

                                       ♠ A2 
                                       ♥ AQ98
                                       ♦ 8632
                                       ♣ 975


                                        South

                                       ♠ Q75
                                       ♥ K7
                                       ♦ 54
                                       ♣ AKQ1086


                        bidding:   S      W      N      E

                                  1♣     1♦     1♥     P
                                  3♣     P      3♦     P
                                  4♣     P      5♣  (all pass)

	North felt he had enough to force to game opposite his partner’s jump rebid. 
His 3♦ call was intended as a probe for notrump, asking partner to bid 3NT with a 
diamond stop.  When South couldn’t oblige, North opted for the eleven trick game.

	West leads the king of diamonds, East overtaking with the ace and leading 
back the jack.  West in turns overtakes with the queen and continues with the 10, 
which you ruff.  Decide on a line of play before reading the answer below.

         *          *          *          *          *         *          *  


	The full deal:

                                       ♠ A2
                                       ♥ AQ98
                                       ♦ 8632
                                       ♣ 975

                          ♠ J843                     ♠ K1096
                          ♥ J65                      ♥ 10432
                          ♦ KQ1097                   ♦ AJ
                          ♣ J                        ♣ 432

                                       ♠ Q75
                                       ♥ K7
                                       ♦ 54
                                       ♣ AKQ1086

	Looking at just the N-S hands, there are a couple of very unlikely cases that 
might bring this contract home, such as a singleton king of spades or one opponent 
holding J10x of hearts, but your best chance is a squeeze, very much like the ones we 
have been illustrating in our most recent columns. There are actually two different 
squeeze chances, and one can in fact play the hand in such a way as to take both 
possibilities into account.

	The first chance requires that the king of spades be in the same hand as the 
one which holds the long hearts.  This is the case that actually existed on the deal 
in question.

	The proper sequence of plays which will include all chances is to draw trump 
(three rounds required), play the ace of spades (Vienna Coup), lead a heart to the 
king and play off all your trumps.  In the case of the actual deal above, the end 
position will be:

                                                              

                                ♠ -----
                                ♥ AQ9
                                ♦ 8
                                ♣ -----
                                               ♠ K
                                               ♥ 1043
                                               ♦ -----
                                               ♣ -----
                                ♠ Q7
                                ♥ 7
                                ♦ -----
                                ♣ 8

	South plays the last trump, discarding the diamond from dummy, and East has 
no safe discard. He can’t pitch a heart, or else the small heart in dummy will be 
good, so he should throw the king of spades, in the hope that his partner holds the 
queen.  South now cashes the good queen of spades and the two high hearts.

	Because the two menaces (the 4th heart and the queen of spades) are divided 
between the N-S hands, the squeeze is said to be “automatic”, meaning that it could 
operate against either opponent. This can be illustrated by interchanging the E-W 
hands and making the same sequence of plays.   

	The second chance is a possible heart-diamond squeeze against West.  If one 
were to change the West hand slightly by giving him one more heart and one less 
spade, so that he holds, for example: 

                         ♠ J84   ♥ J653   ♦ KQ1097   ♣ J

then in addition to the chances discussed above, West could be squeezed in the red 
suits.  Dummy’s small spade should be pitched early and the 4th diamond should be 
retained, bringing about this hypothetical end position:

	                                 ♠ -----
                                         ♥ AQ9
                                         ♦ 8
                                         ♣ -----

                            ♠ -----
                            ♥ J65
                            ♦ 9
                            ♣ -----
                                         ♠ Q7
                                         ♥ 7
                                         ♦ -----
                                         ♣ 6

          South, who has the lead, plays his last trump, and West is doomed.  If he 
throws his last diamond, dummy’s 8 will become a winner, and if he throws a heart, 
the now useless 8 of diamonds will be pitched, and the hearts will run.  This squeeze 
is described as “positional” (as opposed to automatic), because the two menaces are 
in the same hand (North) and will only work in this case against the West position, 
the opponent who has to discard before the hand with the menaces.   
     
         (Many thanks to my good friend, Michael Klein, who saw the chance for the 
red-suit squeeze, which I had missed the first time I wrote this article).