Playing in the Life Master Pairs, I ran across a hand of interest both to the declarer and the defense.
S: 1076
H: Q6
D: AK76
C: 10964
H: 102
D: QJ93
C: AQ752
S: A985
H: 43
D: 8542
C: K83
S: J432
H: AKJ9875
D: 10
C: J
The bidding was dull; in third seat, I opened 4H: and played it there.

At my table, West led the S:K, cashed another spade, and shifted to the D:Q. Ten tricks were easy.

So who erred? On first impression, it looks as if West should have tried to reach partner in clubs; perhaps partner's second spade should be suit preference, not that West is guaranteed to read it. Maybe so, but the first error was East's. Because partner played the two high spades, East should overtake the second and give his partner a ruff. If West had S:KQx, he would have led the small one on the second round just to avoid his partner's having to make this guess. So, East should overtake the second spade and give partner a ruff.

At a friend's table, the defense cashed two spades and the C:A, then continued clubs. He messed around a little while and went down one. Upon hearing his story, I demanded a beer from him. He missed a simple double squeeze. If he ruffs the second club, cashes two trumps ending in dummy, ruffs a third club, and runs his trumps, he reaches

S: ---
H: ---
D: AK7
C: 10
S: ---
H: ---
D: QJ9
C: Q
S: A
H: ---
D: 854
C: ---
S: J4
H: 5
D: 10
C: ---
When he cashes his last trump, West must pitch a diamond or the C:10 will be good. Dummy pitches the now-useless club and East feels the pinch. Most likely, he'll pitch a diamond if he hasn't already. The D:7 will take the last trick.

Does that mean the defense needs to find the ruff or the underlead in clubs to beat the hand? No! If West cashes his three winners and switches to a diamond, declarer has no late entry to dummy, so there is no squeeze. He can take seven hearts and two diamonds, but that's all. Ought he find that play? It's hard to say, but if the partnership plays count signals throughout, he has a chance. It's not quite good enough for him to shift to trumps. Declarer wins low in dummy (a finesse of the six!), ruffs a club, crosses back to the H:Q, ruffs another club, and is in the same position as before. If the H:10 were in the East hand, a trump shift would be good enough.

Copyright © 2000 Jeff Goldsmith