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Declarer Squeezes Both Defenders

  by Richard Pavlicek

The 59th annual Southeastern Regional, Florida’s largest bridge tournament, was completed last Sunday in Bal Harbour. As usual, a large contingent of players were from out of state — no doubt appreciative of our balmy weather. One of those making the trek was Seymour “Sy” Reich of New York City, who displayed immaculate technique as declarer on today’s deal. His partner was Bill Passell of Coral Springs, one of the country’s leading players.

6 H South
None Vul
S K 7 4
H A 10 8 7
D J 8 5 3
C Q 5

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

Lead: D 2
S A 10 3
H K Q J 9 6 3 2
D K 4

The bidding needs an explanation. Reich, South, opened one heart in third seat. (I guess you could call it the “Third Reich” — sorry about that.) North’s two clubs was the Drury convention, which showed a hand that was too strong for a raise to two hearts. The purpose of this gadget is to allow the partnership to stop at the two level if the opening bid was shaded, a common practice in third seat.

In this instance South held an exceptionally fine hand, and he judged that a slam was likely. A check for aces with Blackwood drew a five-diamond response, which East doubled to ask for a diamond lead. No problem as far as South could see… six hearts!

West led a diamond to East’s ace, and the diamond return was won by the king. Trumps were drawn in two rounds, then a diamond was ruffed in case the queen happened to drop. No luck. Declarer had one final hope: a squeeze.

A barrage of hearts followed, and the club ace was cashed to clarify the position. Before leading the last heart, West held Q-9-6 in spades and the club king; dummy held K-7 in spades, the diamond jack and the club queen; East held J-8-5 in spades and the diamond queen. The last heart was the crusher: West had to let go a spade, dummy threw the now-useless club queen, and East had to throw a spade to keep the diamond queen. South’s 10 of spades won the last trick, thanks to the neat double squeeze.

Defensive tip: A spade lead by East at trick two would break up the squeeze and defeat the contract.

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© 1989 Richard Pavlicek