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Chance Missed To Ruin Squeeze

  by Richard Pavlicek

The most important area of card play is not by declarer, but by the defenders. One will be a defender twice as often as declarer (on the average), so the need for skillful play is evident. Today’s deal is from my advanced lesson program.

6 S South
Both Vul
S 5 3 2
H K Q 7 6 4
D A 2
C 10 7 2


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

Lead: C 6
S A K Q J 9 8 6
H 10 5
D Q 8

South held nine solid tricks in spades — one short of game in hand — so he opened two clubs, strong and artificial. North showed his heart suit, South bid his spades, North raised, and South made a slam try by showing the club ace. North cooperated by showing the diamond ace, and South drove to slam after checking for aces with Blackwood.

West led the club six to the queen and ace, and declarer drew two rounds of trumps as West threw a club. Declarer’s best chance was to establish two heart tricks, so he led a low heart toward dummy. West played the two, his lowest card, which showed an odd number of hearts; declarer played the queen, and East correctly ducked. East knew from West’s count signal that declarer could not have a singleton heart, so ducking was safe and might be essential.

Declarer returned to his hand with a spade and led another heart; low, king, ace. East knew that declarer could not establish the heart suit (for lack of entries), so he simply returned a club and hoped his partner could win another trick to set the contract.

Oops! Declarer won the club and began leading trumps — and I mean all of them. On the last trump, West had to discard from diamond K-10 and the club jack. If he threw his club, dummy’s 10 would be high, so he let go a diamond. Declarer then discarded the club 10 and won the last two tricks with the diamond ace and queen. Well played, but…

East offered a helping hand. After winning the heart ace, it was essential to return a diamond to knock out dummy’s entry. This breaks up the squeeze, and declarer must go down.

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© 1989 Richard Pavlicek