Main     Study 6D by Richard Pavlicek    

Pure Squeezes

The wide variety of squeeze positions in bridge would require volumes of analysis to be complete, and the practical benefit would be small. This study approaches the subject from a more realistic perspective that is inherent to all squeezes. Warning: This is for experts or “squeeze buffs” only.

I will define a “pure” squeeze as one in which threat cards require no special rank and each enemy stopper is independent; that is, a stopper held by one opponent does not require assistance from his partner. Further, it is assumed that the trump suit (if any) has no special role after the squeeze.

The Basic Threat

It is a fact of card play that every legitimate squeeze position must contain at least one isolated threat located behind the defender who guards it. This is evident because if declarer’s only isolated threat is in front of a defender (or if there is no isolated threat), the defenders can foil any squeeze attempt by retaining their stoppers behind declarer’s threats. Hence, a defender’s stopper can disappear only after the threat has disappeared.

For the sake of discussion I will assume a standard layout in which North has an isolated threat against West. This will be called the basic threat since it is basic to all squeeze positions. It will further be assumed that declarer is able to win all but one of the remaining tricks.

This “basic threat” approach to squeeze analysis is also the most practical. Declarer often considers squeeze possibilities as soon as he discovers that a particular opponent has a stopper in a certain suit. The next thought in declarer’s mind is “What can I do about it?”

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Ambiguous Threats

Besides the basic threat against West, it will be assumed that declarer has two additional threats (in separate suits) that are not isolated. These ambiguous threats can both be in the South hand or they can be split, but they cannot both be in the North hand. If North held both ambiguous threats, East could assume the task to protect them and there could be no squeeze because he would discard after the threats.

The reason for assuming two ambiguous threats is that with just one other threat, only a simple squeeze against West could exist, which is beneath the scope of this study.

The reason for assuming neither ambiguous threat is isolated is to consider the general case. When an ambiguous threat is isolated (or becomes so), the ending is a special case and the play is simplified.

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The Free Suit

The remaining suit, besides the basic threat suit and the ambiguous threat suits, will be called the free suit. This must be the trump suit at a suit contract, and at notrump it is generally a solid suit. It is possible at notrump to have threats in all four suits, but this is rare and of little practical value.

In general it makes no difference, as far as squeeze requirements are concerned, which hand holds the free suit (or whether it is equally divided). Most often it is held in the hand with one threat as this conveniently fills out the missing cards. If the hand with two threats has equal or greater length in the free suit, this must be compensated for by a surplus winner in the opposite hand in its lone threat suit — else declarer could not win all but one trick.

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Squeeze Type 1

Depending on how the threats are divided, pure squeezes fall into two main types: (1) South holds both ambiguous threats, or (2) the ambiguous threats are divided. With either type, each ambiguous threat must be accompanied by an entry in its own suit.

Based on the technique required, Type 1 squeezes have two forms:

Type 1-A

North has two winners in the basic threat suit (with small opposite) or an entry in either ambiguous threat suit.

Cash the entire free suit. Next cash all of South’s winners except those in the ambiguous threat suit kept by West, then cash North’s winners.

Each end position (5-7 cards) shows the simplest diagram of each squeeze using the standard layout. I deliberately use extreme cards (aces and deuces) to make it easy to absorb the ending. The full deals, however, may be rotated 180 degrees from the standard layout.

1. NT win 7

S A K 9
H 2
D 2
C K 3
S Q J 10
H K Q
D K Q
C
TableS 4 3
H 9 8 7
D J 10
C
South leadsS 2
H A 3
D A 3
C A 2

The clubs can be cashed ending in either hand. If West keeps his diamond stopper, continue with the H A to squeeze West out of a diamond; then the top spades squeeze East. If West keeps his heart stopper, lead the D A for a mirror image.

2. NT win 6

S J
H 2
D K 2
C A K
S K
H K Q
D Q J 10
C
TableS 2
H J 10
D 9 8 7
C
South leadsS
H A 3
D A 4 3
C 2

Win the C K and lead the C A. If West has kept hearts and East keeps diamonds, South discards a diamond; then the D A and D K squeeze West. If West instead has kept diamonds and East keeps hearts, South discards a heart; then the H A squeezes West.

3. 6 C South

S A 8 6 2
H 7 2
D K 8 4
C K 8 4 2
S K Q J 10 9
H K J 6 5
D Q 10 2
C 3
TableS 7 5 4
H Q 9 8 4 3
D J 9 7 5
C 5
Lead: S KS 3
H A 10
D A 6 3
C A Q J 10 9 7 6

Duck the first trick and assume West continues (not the best defense but certainly realistic). Ruff the second spade in order to keep both of South’s threats intact. Lead all the clubs throwing a heart and a diamond from North. If West keeps a heart stopper, cash the D A and K to squeeze West out of his heart stopper; then the S A squeezes East in the red suits. If West instead keeps a diamond stopper, cash the H A to squeeze West out of his diamond stopper; then cross to the D K and lead the S A to squeeze East.

Note that because of the spade winner in dummy, East becomes the final squeeze victim instead of West; but the order of play is the same as in Diagram 2 which is all that matters.

Type 1-B

North’s only entry is a single winner in the basic threat suit or the last free-suit winner.

After the next-to-last free-suit winner, cash all of South’s winners except those in the ambiguous threat suit retained by West, then cross to North and lead North’s winner(s).

4. NT win 6

S A J
H 2
D 2
C A K
S K Q
H K Q
D K Q
C
TableS 4 3
H J 10
D J 10
C
South leadsS 2
H A 3
D A 3
C 2

Win the C K then cash the red ace in whichever suit West abandons. Next cross to the S A and lead the last club to effect a simultaneous double squeeze.

5. NT win 6

S A J
H 2
D 2
C K 3
S K Q
H K Q
D K Q
C
TableS 4 3
H J 10
D J 10
C
South leadsS
H A 3
D A 3
C A 2

Cash the C A then the red ace in whichever suit West abandons. Cross to the C K, squeezing West out of his red-suit stopper, then lead the S A to squeeze East.

6. 6 NT South

S 8 6 3
H A K 6
D A 7 6
C A K 7 3
S Q
H J 9 8 5 3
D J 10 9 2
C 10 6 2
TableS K J 9 5 4 2
H Q 10 7
D Q 8 4 3
C
Lead: S QS A 10 7
H 4 2
D K 5
C Q J 9 8 5 4

Duck the first trick and win the D J shift with the king. Lead all but one club discarding a spade. If East keeps a heart stopper, win the D A and H A (optional) then cross to the S A to lead the last club for a simultaneous double squeeze. If East instead keeps a diamond stopper, win the H A-K, cross to the S A, etc.

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Squeeze Type 2

Now consider Type 2 squeezes, in which the ambiguous threats are divided, each accompanied by an entry in its own suit. Here there are five forms, 2-A through 2-E.

Type 2-A

South’s threat is headed by two winners (with small opposite).

Cash all winners in the free suit and basic threat suit (in any order). Then, if West keeps a stopper in North’s ambiguous threat suit, cash South’s winners. If West keeps a stopper in South’s threat suit, cash North’s winners.

7. NT win 6

S J
H A 3
D 2
C K 3
S K
H K Q
D Q J 10
C
TableS 3
H J 10
D 9 8 7
C
South leadsS
H 2
D A K 3
C A 2

Cash the top clubs ending in either hand. If West keeps a stopper in hearts (and East keeps diamonds), cash the top diamonds to squeeze West. If West keeps a stopper in diamonds (and East keeps hearts), win the H A to squeeze West.

8. 6 C South

S 9
H 10 6 4 3
D A K 6 5 4 3
C 10 7
S 7 5 4 2
H Q 9 2
D J 9 7
C 9 6 5
TableS A K J 10 3
H J 7 5
D Q 10 8
C 8 3
Lead: S 2S Q 8 6
H A K 8
D 2
C A K Q J 4 2

East wins the S K and returns a trump. Win in hand, ruff a spade, cross to the H K and lead all the trumps throwing three diamonds and two hearts from dummy. If East keeps diamonds, win the H A to squeeze East. If East instead keeps hearts, win the top diamonds to squeeze East.

Type 2-B

South’s threat suit is of the form A-x-x opposite K-x. South has an additional entry in one of North’s threat suits.

After cashing the next-to-last free-suit winner: If West abandons North’s ambiguous threat suit, cash North’s winner in that suit, return to hand with the “additional entry” (do not use South’s threat suit) and lead the last free-suit winner. If West instead abandons South’s threat suit, the order of play is less demanding — best is to lead the last free-suit winner discarding North’s small card in South’s threat suit, cross to North in South’s threat suit, return using the “additional entry” and lead South’s last winner to squeeze West.

9. NT win 7

S J 2
H A 3
D K 2
C 4
S K Q
H K Q
D Q J 10
C
TableS 4 3
H J 10
D 9 8 7
C
South leadsS A
H 2
D A 4 3
C A K

On the C K if West discards a heart, the only successful sequence is to win the H A, cross to the S A and lead the last club. If West instead discards a diamond, a variety of plays will work; the recommended line is to lead the last club throwing the D 2, cross to the D K, return to the S A and lead the D A.

10. 6 NT South

S 8 6 5 4
H A K 2
D A J
C J 10 5 3
S J 10 7 3
H Q 8 5 3
D 10 9 4
C 7 6
TableS K 9
H J 10 9 6
D Q 8 7 5 3
C Q 9
Lead: S 3S A Q 2
H 7 4
D K 6 2
C A K 8 4 2

Duck East’s S K at trick one and win the ace next. Lead four rounds of clubs. If West abandons hearts, win the H K-A, cross to the S Q and lead the last club. If West instead abandons diamonds, lead the last club throwing the D J, win the D A, H K (optional), S Q then lead the D K.

Type 2-C

South’s threat suit is of the form A-x-x opposite K-x. South has an alternate threat in North’s ambiguous threat suit.

After cashing the next-to-last free-suit winner: If West abandons North’s ambiguous threat suit, lead the last free-suit winner discarding North’s ambiguous threat, cross to North in the same suit and cash North’s winner in South’s threat suit (or vice versa), then lead North’s winner(s) in the basic threat suit. If West instead abandons South’s threat suit, cross to North in South’s threat suit, cash North’s winner(s) in the basic threat suit, return in South’s threat suit, and lead the last free-suit winner.

11. NT win 7

S A J
H A 3
D K 2
C 4
S K Q
H K Q
D Q J 10
C
TableS 4 3
H J 10
D 9 8 7
C
South leadsS
H 4 2
D A 4 3
C A K

On the first club if West abandons hearts, lead the last club throwing the H 3 (South’s H 4 will take over as a threat), win the H A and D K, then lead the S A. If West instead abandons diamonds, win the D K, S A shedding a heart, D A, then the last club.

12. 6 NT South

S A 7 3 2
H A J 6 3
D K 6
C J 10 8
S Q J 10 8
H Q 10 2
D J 9 7 5
C 9 5
TableS 9 5 4
H K 9 8 5
D Q 10 4 2
C 6 3
Lead: S QS K 6
H 7 4
D A 8 3
C A K Q 7 4 2

Duck the first trick and win the second (thanks for no heart shift). Win five clubs discarding two hearts. If West abandons hearts, lead the last club and throw the H J, win the H A and D K, then lead the S A to squeeze East. If West instead abandons diamonds, win the D K, S A throwing a heart, D A, then lead the last club.

Type 2-D

South’s threat suit is of the form A-x opposite x. South has an additional entry in one of North’s threat suits. North has an entry in the basic threat suit.

After cashing the next-to-last free-suit winner: If West abandons North’s ambiguous threat suit, cash North’s winner in that suit, return to hand with the “additional entry” (do not use South’s threat suit), lead the last free-suit winner (squeezing West) then cross to the winner in North’s basic threat suit to squeeze East. If West instead abandons South’s threat suit, lead the last free-suit winner discarding North’s small card in South’s threat suit, cross to North in the basic threat suit, return using the “additional entry” and lead South’s last winner to squeeze West.

13. NT win 7

S A J
H A 4 3
D 2
C 4
S K Q
H Q J 10
D K Q
C
TableS 4 3
H 9 8 7
D J 10
C
South leadsS 2
H K 2
D A 3
C A K

On the C K if West abandons hearts, win the H A, return to the H K and lead the last club to squeeze West out of his diamond stopper; then the S A squeezes East in the red suits. If West instead abandons diamonds, lead the last club and discard the D 2; cross to the S A, return to the H K, then lead the D A to squeeze West.

14. 7 C South

S A K Q 5
H K 6 4
D 9 3
C 10 9 6 2
S J 9 7 6 4
H Q 10 9
D K 7 5 2
C 5
TableS 8
H J 7 5 3 2
D Q J 10 8 4
C 7 3
Lead: S 6S 10 3 2
H A 8
D A 6
C A K Q J 8 4

Not wishing to duck the opening lead (that’s too easy) you win the queen, draw trumps, cash a second spade, and lead out all but one trump discarding a diamond from dummy. If West abandons hearts, win the H K and H A, and lead the last club to squeeze West out of his diamond stopper; then the top spade squeezes East. If West instead abandons diamonds, lead the last club throwing a diamond, win North’s high spade, cross to the H A, and lead the D A to squeeze West.

Type 2-E

South’s threat suit is of the form A-x opposite x. South has an alternate threat in North’s ambiguous threat suit. North has an additional entry besides the ambiguous threat entry.

After cashing the next-to-last free-suit winner: If West abandons North’s ambiguous threat suit, lead the last free-suit winner discarding North’s ambiguous threat, cross to North in the same suit, then lead North’s winner(s) in the basic threat suit. If West instead abandons South’s threat suit, cross to North with the “additional entry,” cash North’s winner(s) in the basic threat suit, return in South’s threat suit, and lead the last free-suit winner.

15. NT win 7

S A K 9
H A 3
D 2
C 4
S Q J 10
H K Q
D K Q
C
TableS 5 4 3
H J 10
D J 10
C
South leadsS 2
H 4 2
D A 3
C A K

On the first club if West gives up diamonds, win the top spades and D A, then the last club effects a simultaneous double squeeze. If West instead gives up hearts, continue with the last club discarding the H 3 from dummy; then the H A squeezes West out of a diamond, and the top spades squeeze East in the red suits.

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© 2013 Richard Pavlicek