Playing in the Life Master Pairs, I pick up the South
Over partner's 2, 3 showed exactly one
ace and one king. Perhaps I ought to have raised his
spade suit, but with an honor in each suit, I chose to
bid notrump. Knowing I had my two high cards, partner
figured there ought to be a shot at slam at least, so
he just bid it. Perhaps 4NT might have been more prudent,
but we have reached the normal spot.
West is a strong player, but I've never seen East before.
The opening lead is the 9, to which I follow small
from dummy. East contributes the 10. I win, of
course, and have a real problem. This is matchpoints, and
6NT looks to be the normal spot. The overtrick is worth as
much as the contract. The opening lead suit is an odd choice,
very odd. The only material cases, however, are 986
and Q986. It's possible that he led from Q9x
and East contributed a falsecard, but that's too much to
expect, even in this event. All in all, I don't think West
would lead from either of those suits, but I have to dope out
what is going on. If I get it wrong, I'm in trouble; if he
led from the four-card holding, I am probably going down. If
he led from three, I need to score the overtrick to win the
board. So my risk is roughly half a board either way. I don't
see any good way to figure out which occurred, but I'm not
completely dead if I play for the drop and when the opponents
do something super, sometimes they get to win the board. Using
that reasoning, I play a low spade to the K at trick two.
East pitches a club. Rats. He got me. Tonight, he'll have a
Is there anything I can do now? Cashing out for down one is
pointless; down 10 and down one are roughly the same score.
Let's see---if I can score five diamond tricks, I have 11 tops
and I might be able to manage an extra trick in the end position.
Problem is, I have no way to rectify the count for a squeeze, and
an endplay is about as likely as a trump coup. That means that
I can't put any pressure on East, even though he rates to have
the length in hearts and clubs. In any case, there's nothing
to do but try diamonds. I cash the top diamonds and both follow.
Since I need to use the K as an entry to run diamonds and
it's my last entry to hand, I need to cash both high hearts. If
things go wrong, I'm not taking many tricks, but I think I see a
chance. Both follow to the hearts, and when I cash the diamond,
pitching a spade, both follow, so I'm up to eleven tricks. That's
good---only one fewer than when I started!
Since I have two entries to dummy, I think a squeeze without the
count is possible. I'll need West to have either six clubs or both
the queen and the ten. In the latter case, a double finesse would
work, but I don't have the two entries needed to take two hooks.
When I cash two more diamonds, it's clear, however, that West has
come under some pressure. He pitches one club on the first diamond,
and the position is now:
I very much hope West has both clubs, as I'll manage to make this
if so. I cash the last diamond. West pitches a club, so I dump
the second to last spade (let's hope a pair of natural sevens
takes the pot!). When I lead a club, West's queen and ten fall under
dummy's honors, so I make twelve tricks. Phew. When I was about
to lead the last diamond, the position around the table was
If West discards a spade, I pitch a club on the beer card,
cross to a high club, and exit with a spade. West has to lead to
dummy. When he pitches a club, I have three club tricks.
As it turned out, West had only two hearts to start with,
but in the end position, if he had started with another one, he'd be
squeezed out of it. Even if it were not a winner, it'd
be an entry to partner's hand, which would break the squeeze,
but there just isn't enough room to hold three clubs, a spade,
and a heart in four cards.
I don't think I've ever seen this particular triple squeeze
without the count before, and while I'm trying to determine
its exact place in the taxonomy of squeezes, partner remarks,
"nicely done, but it would have been a lot easier if you got
it right at trick one, no?" What can I say? This seems
like a good time to compliment West on his nice lead.
Copyright © 2000 Jeff Goldsmith