Exercise 6C86   Main

The Squeeze Is On

  by Richard Pavlicek

You are playing with Mabel in the Club Championship and so far your game looks solid. All move for the next round! A pair of weird looking French men arrive at your table. As the dealer you pick up these cards:

Both Vul
S J 2
H A Q 10 9
D K J 2
C A 9 5 4

What is your opening bid?

In the old days this showed 16-18 points, but most experienced players have switched to 15-17. Mabel responds with 2 C Stayman. (The French guys will pass throughout.)

What do you bid now?

This shows your four-card major.

Does it deny four spades?

Standard practice is “hearts first” with both, so you could have four spades as well.

Mabel shocks you with her next bid of 4 C! Whatever in the world?

Is this Natural, Control-showing, or Ace-asking? (N C A)

When your side has bid notrump, a bid of 4 NT is not Blackwood but an invitation to 6 NT, so some other bid is necessary to ask about aces. Four clubs is the Gerber convention.

What is your answer?

This shows you have two aces. You are apprehensive about what may happen next, as Mabel jumps all the way to 6 H. Oh dear!

What do you do now?

Gosh, I hope so! If you bid again, Mabel would have to call the paramedics for a stretcher.

Exercise 6C86   MainTop   The Squeeze Is On

West leads the S 3, and your anxiety mounts as Mabel puts down the dummy. This is what you see:

Both Vul
S A K 5 4
H K J 6 5 3
D 3
C K 10 3


2 C
4 C
6 H

All Pass
1 NT
2 H
4 S
Lead: S 3 Table
S J 2
H A Q 10 9
D K J 2
6 H SouthC A 9 5 4

Not counting ruffing ability, how many top tricks do you have?

West may have led from the S Q.

Will you win the king or duck the lead to your jack? (K D)

It would not really help if you won the S J; one discard from your hand is useless and you can ruff the low spades. East follows with the S 7.

Your lead at trick two?

This might establish an extra trick for you. It would be wrong to draw trumps right away since you have ruffing to do. East plays the D 4.

Which diamond do you play from your hand?

In theory it’s a guess, but in practice East will usually take the ace if he has it. So the jack is your best shot. Too bad. West wins the D Q and leads another spade.

Will you win the ace or duck? (A D)

Of course. There is no reason to risk ducking with nothing to gain. East follows with the S 9.

What do you lead from dummy now?

Exercise 6C86   MainTop   The Squeeze Is On

You ruff this and cash the H A (all follow), then you ruff a diamond in dummy. This is what’s left:

North leads
S 5
H K J 6
C K 10 3
H trump
win 7/7
H Q 10
C A 9 5 4

Your lead from dummy?

You ruff with the H 10. By ruffing spades you gained two extra tricks.

What do you lead next?

It would be wrong to ruff the D K since it may be a useful threat card. West discards a club.

Which heart do you play from dummy?

You next cash the H J to draw East’s last trump. You let go a club and West, a diamond.

Which card will you lead next?

The key play! East throws a diamond.

What will you discard from your hand?

West looks uncomfortable as he discards another club. You lead a club to your ace, back to the king, and voila… French toast! The C 10 is good to make your slam.

The French men held:

S 10 8 6 3
H 4
D A Q 9 7
C J 8 6 2
Table S Q 9 7
H 8 7 2
D 10 8 6 5 4
C Q 7

Exercise 6C86   MainTop   The Squeeze Is On

© 1997 Richard Pavlicek