Another Funny Ending

The power of squeeze menaces in end positions is often surprising. Being careful to maintain menaces, even with no clear endgame goal in mind, can reap unexpected dividends.

Playing OKBridge against decent opposition, I end up playing a hand with a dozen kibitzers watching from around the world.

S: A10874
H: AJ73
D: Q3
C: K2
S: K92
H: Q10982
D: A52
C: 104
West leads the S:Q. With only 17 high-card points outstanding, West rates to have nearly all of them, so I'm a favorite to make five, losing only one trick in each minor. If all goes well, I can pick up spades and lose to only the C:A. To this end, I win the first trick in hand and lead the H:10. Whoops! West discards a high diamond spot and I have to reconsider. I want East to be forced to win his trump trick at my leisure, rather than his, so I duck this trick. He wins and continues with the curse of Scotland.

West's distribution is probably 3-0-5-5, so the contract is cold if I win this, draw trumps and run spades. I won't be able to get back to my hand without using up my last trump, though, so I will never get my club trick. But West will have a lot of cards to keep; I may be able to put pressure on him in the endgame. I don't see the position just yet, but it is time to make him pitch lots of cards.

I win the D:A, take a spade finesse immediately and draw all the trumps ending in dummy. I run the spades next (perforce) and watch the discards. This is the end position:

D: Q
C: K2
D: K
H: 2
C: 104
Well, it turns out that I can get my club trick after all. I ruff the diamond and lead a low club to the King, at which point West surrenders.

Strangely enough, West could not do anything to prevent my overtrick in the end. Had he stiffed his C:A, I could have just exited with a low club and claimed. It was a funny sort of squeeze; West was either squeezed out of apparently superfluous winners or the low card guarding his C:A. Strange: none of the menaces had an entry, nor was there any threat of setting up a trick I didn't deserve in the first place. The squeeze was just there in order to maintain control of the hand. Funny thing, that.

Copyright © 1995 Jeff Goldsmith