Squeezing the declarer


Karen McCallum and Kerri Sanborn executed a neat squeeze on declarer.


                            S  A Q J 10 6

                            H  7 3

                            D  10 7 2

                            C  J 8 3


              S  K 9 8 4                S  7 5

              H  Q 8                    H  K J 9 6 4

              D  K Q 9 3                D  5 4

              C  A 9 5                  C  K Q 10 6


                            S  3 2

                            H  A 10 5 2

                            D  A J 8 6

                            C  7 4 2


          WEST         NORTH         EAST         SOUTH

           -          Sanborn         -          McCallum

          1D           2S            Dbl          Pass

          2NT          All Pass


Sanborn started with the SQ, ducked. She shifted to a club that ran to declarer's 9. When declarer led the HQ, the ducking continued. McCallum ducked the HJ as well. Now declarer led a diamond, and once again McCallum ducked. Declarer ran the clubs, pitching a diamond from her hand on the last club. This was the position at this point:


                            S  A J 10 6

                            H  --

                            D  10

                            C  --


               S  K 9 8               S  --

               H  --                  H  K 9 6

               D  Q 9                 D  5 4

               C  --                  C  --


                            S  3

                            H  A 10

                            D  A J

                            C  --


Declarer called for a diamond and McCallum was ready. She rose with the ace and immediately put the HA on the table. West was helpless. If she pitched a diamond, McCallum's jack was good. If she tossed a spade, Sanborn could run the suit. Down one on a declarer squeeze.





Count, count, count


Geoff Hampson took advantage of all the clues as declarer on this deal from the second round of the Spingold. He was playing with partner Eric Greco.


Dlr: North                  S  K 10 8 4

Vul: None                   H  Q J

                            D  9 5

                            C  K 10 6 5 3


            S  Q 6 3                       S  J 9 5

            H  A 10 8 6 2                  H  9 7 5 3

            D  Q J                         D  K 10 8 6 3

            C  Q 9 4                       C  7


                            S  A 7 2

                            H  K 4

                            D  A 7 4 2

                            C  A J 8 2


          WEST         NORTH         EAST         SOUTH

           -           Greco          -          Hampson

           -           Pass          Pass         1NT

          Pass         2C            Pass         2D

          Pass         3NT           All Pass


West led the H2, which shows attitude in their methods. The jack was played from dummy and East played the H3. East/West were using upside-down count, so this showed an even number. Hampson allowed dummy to hold the trick, and placed West with five hearts, East with four.


Since his 2D response to the Stayman inquiry denied a four-card major, Hampson knew that the opponents were aware that the heart suit was running. To make the contract, Hampson needed to run the clubs without a loser. Before tackling the critical suit, however, he played on the other suits to get a count of the hand.


He called the D9 from dummy and East covered with the D10. Hampson rose with the ace, and West played the queen. The defenders' cards on this trick suggested that East started with K (or Q)-10-8-x-x, and West with either K-Q or Q-J. Next, Hampson played a low spade to the king and another spade to the ace. The opponents knew that Hampson was digging about for clues, so they both gave false count.


"They both showed an even number," said Hampson, "so I played the suit to be 3-3."


The inferential count on the hand, therefore, was 3-5-2-3 for West and 3-4-5-1 for East. So Hampson cashed the CA and finessed West for the CQ to score up the game.





Safety play pays off


How do you play Q-10-5-3 opposite K-7-6-2 for no more than two losers?

You're in a good game, and you cannot afford to lose three tricks in this suit. That's the problem that faced the declarers who played this deal. Hamish Bennett of the victorious team knew the answer. This was the full deal:


Board 16                    S  8 4

Dlr: West                   H  Q J 4 3

Vul: E-W                    D  A J 9 4

                            C  K 9 6


             S  Q 5 3 2                  S  A K J 10

             H  K                        H  A 8 5

             D  Q 10 5 3                 D  K 7 6 2

             C  10 8 7 3                 C  A 5


                            S  9 7 6

                            H  10 9 7 6 2

                            D  8

                            C  Q J 4 2


          WEST         NORTH         EAST         SOUTH

          Pass         Pass          1D           Pass

          1S           Pass          4S           All Pass


Bennett won the opening heart lead and drew three rounds of trumps, carefully finishing in dummy. Most of the declarers wound up in hand and led a diamond to the king, winning. But now the A-J-9 was over the Q-10-5, so those declarers all lost three tricks and went down one because there was no way to avoid a club loser.


Bennett led a diamond from dummy and put up the queen, losing to the ace -- but he noticed that South followed with the 8. He won the heart return and led a second diamond to the 10, losing to the jack. Now he was in fine shape -- dummy had the K-7 over North's 9-4, and a simple finesse got him the two diamonds he needed to score his game.


This safety play works whenever South's singleton is anything but the 4. If North held the top four outstanding diamonds, there would be no way to avoid three diamond losers. The safety play also works if South rather than North holds the four diamonds. After leading to the queen, which wins, you return to dummy and lead another diamond and put up the 10. If this loses to the jack, this means the suit broke 3-2 and you have only two losers.

And if South has both the ace and the jack, the 10 will win declarer's second diamond trick.