Main     Study 6D81 by Richard Pavlicek    

Double Squeezes

Few players fully understand the double squeeze, yet the concept is not that difficult. Certain basic principles apply to all double squeezes, and this study will allow you to master the subject.

All double squeezes involve three suits that contain threats. One threat is protected solely by one opponent; a second is protected solely by the other opponent; and a third threat, which I will call the common threat, is protected by both opponents. The common threat must be accompanied by an entry in its own suit.

For the sake of discussion, assume South has the common threat. The threat protected by South’s right-hand opponent will be called the right threat, and the one protected by South’s left-hand opponent will be called the left threat. Remember that this orientation is relative to the hand with the common threat.

If South has the common threat, North must hold the left threat. The reason is that if South also held the left threat, both threats against West would lie in front of him and, by the nature of all squeeze plays, South must part with a threat before West parts with a stopper. The right threat may be in either hand.

Based on my definitions above, a general rule is available that works for all double squeezes:

First cash the right winners*, then cash all the winners in the hand with the common threat except those in the common suit.

*Unless this suit provides the only entry to the hand opposite the common threat.

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Basic Endings

The following endings illustrate the mechanics of a double squeeze. South is on lead and must win all the tricks. Identify the threats and verify that the rule works.

1. NT win 6

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

Cash the H A then North’s winners. You also could play club-heart-spade or spade-heart-club, but you would fail if you began spade-club, club-club or club-spade.

2. NT win 7

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

Cash the H A, both clubs, then cross to North with a diamond and lead the S A. Alternatively, you could begin club-club-heart or club-heart-club.

3. NT win 7

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

According to the rule you should win the H A, both clubs, then the S A; however, in this case any order would work provided you end up in the North hand.

4. NT win 7

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

The club, heart and spade winners may be cashed in any order. The top diamonds, of course, must be left until last since that is the common suit.

5. NT win 7

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

This layout is more restrictive. The H A must be cashed before leading a club. The S A can be cashed early or later, but doing it early may help remove any ambiguity.

6. NT win 6

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

When the common suit is A-x opposite x and North holds the right threat, the play is most restrictive. Winners must be cashed exactly by the rule: H A, clubs, S A.

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Example Deals

Following are four full deals that illustrate the double squeeze. Note that in Deals 7 and 9 North has the common threat, so the left and right orientation is relative to North.

7. 6 NT South

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

You win the S Q and attack hearts to drive out the ace. Assume West takes the third round (East pitches a club) and then switches safely to the D J, won by the king. You next cash a second spade in case the 10 fell doubleton.

Let’s examine the threats: It is likely that both opponents can stop diamonds so this will be the common suit, and its threat lies in North, along with the mandatory entry. It appears that West, if anyone, protects spades (right threat). The club layout is not clear, but the odds favor the length to be with East, so that will be the left threat.

To follow the rule, cash the top spade (right winner) as East pitches a diamond. Next lead the last heart, which squeezes East out of his diamond stopper (you pitch a diamond). Finally, lead the top clubs to squeeze West in spades and diamonds.

In this case it would have worked just as well to cash the last heart before the third spade, although it was crucial to cash all of North’s winners (except the top diamond) before running the clubs.

An interesting point is that declarer could instead play for a simple squeeze against West in the black suits. By reaching the proper ending, S 2 D A-3 C 8 opposite D 7 C A-K-4, both options are preserved. In the actual case, the top clubs completed a double squeeze. If declarer thought West had the club length, he could continue with the D 7 instead. The contract can always be made, but there is no lock; declarer must decide which squeeze to play for.

8. 4 S South

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

Assume West begins with three rounds of clubs, and East ruffs the third. (A heart shift at trick two would defeat the contract, but that’s not so obvious.) East then shifts to the D J, won by the king. You next win the S J and S 10, as East ducks and West pitches a diamond.

You know that West protects clubs, and East protects diamonds (else the D J lead would be stupid). Therefore, the common suit will be hearts, and its threat must be the H 6 (not the jack) because you cannot have all your threats in the same hand. Hence, clubs is the left suit, and diamonds is the right suit.

If you next led a third spade, you would fail because your last right winner (D A) would remain uncashed. To avoid this kind of hang-up, follow the rule. Cash the D A, then run the spades. On the fourth spade you will discard a heart from dummy. On the last spade, West will be squeezed first; he must keep the C J, so he gives up his heart stopper as you pitch the C 10, which has served its purpose. East now feels the pressure; he must keep the D Q, so he also gives up his heart stopper. The last trick will be won by your H 6 (or the two if you want to be esoteric).

Note that the H J was just a mirage and nonessential for the squeeze to function. It did serve a purpose, however, because it prevented East from shifting to hearts after ruffing the club. Any heart lead would kill the squeeze because the H K must remain with the threat, and the H A provides the only late entry to North since the diamonds (right winners) have to be cashed early per the squeeze mechanics.

East’s shift to the D J actually simplified your play by defining the layout. Had he led a spade, you would have to cash both top diamonds yourself before running the spades. You would, of course, but any help from the defense is appreciated.

9. 4 H South

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

West, who bid spades, leads the D K-A, which shows a doubleton in their methods. West next leads the S K, which you duck (you did, didn’t you?), then the C J. You correctly win the C A to keep an entry to dummy. Draw trumps, ending in dummy; cash the S A (important) to pitch a club, ruff a spade, and finish the trumps. The last trump will squeeze West then East.

Note that if West shifts to a club one trick earlier, you would fail — the loser count would be wrong for a squeeze, and if you tried to correct it by giving up a spade, a second club lead is fatal (or East could win the spade and cash his diamond).

10. 3 NT
win 11 South

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

Assume it is matchpoints, so overtricks are important. Duck the first heart, win the next with the H K, then finesse in clubs. Assume East wins and shifts to a spade (too late, thank you); win the S Q then lead a club to dummy as West pitches a spade.

The common suit is spades, the left suit is hearts, and the right suit is clubs. Cash the C A and run the diamonds. The last diamond squeezes West out of his spade stopper, as you discard the low heart from dummy; then a heart to the ace squeezes East in the black suits for 11 tricks.

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© 2013 Richard Pavlicek