OUT FOR THE COUNT

By Barry Rigal

 

Squeezes without the count are one of the more esoteric available to the sophisticated declarer. I had two such opportunities but strange things happened on both deals.

 

                         S  65

DlXr: West               H  AK3

Vul: None                D  A54

                         C  KJT92

          S  9                         S  QJT8742

          H  J876                      H  Q2

          D  KQ63                      D  T2

          C  AQ53                      C  85

                         S  AK3

                         H  T954

                         D  J987

                         C  74

 

          WEST       NORTH       EAST       SOUTH

          1D         2C          Pass       Pass

          Pass

 

East-West avoided an accident in spades, but since plenty of pairs escaped for minus 50, there were some possibilities of a reasonable score if I could make my contract.

 

I won the SQ opening lead and finessed a club, then played a second spade, ruffed. West got out with a heart, and I

foolishly (well, unluckily maybe) tried to run this to the 10.

East took his queen and played a third spade. I ruffed and played the CK, allowing West to win and make the mistake of

cashing his last trump before exiting with a heart. This was the ending:

 

                         S  --

                         H  A

                         D  A54

                         C  2

 

             S  --                   S  T87

             H  J8                   H  --

             D  KQ6                  D  T2

             C  --                   C  --

 

                         S  --

                         H  T9

                         D  J98

                         C  --

 

When I led the last trump, West couldn't pitch a diamond or I would play two rounds of the suit. If he throws a heart

away, I can take my top hearts and play a diamond to the 9, endplaying him for the last two tricks.

 

 

Alas, I missed my chance and went one down. But I had my chance to recover a few boards later.

 

                         S  AJ

Dlr: East                H  KQ76

Vul: None                D  AQJ2

                         C  QJ5

          S  KQ76                      S  T92

          H  T53                       H  AJ92

          D  K6                        D  873

          C  9642                      C  873

                         S  8543

                         H  84

                         D  T954

                         C  AKT

 

A 2NT opening led to a routine auction to 3NT after a Stayman ask. The D8 lead allowed me to cash a few rounds of the suit on which West threw two revealing hearts and East the C3.

The H8 was covered by the 10, queen and ace, and back came a club. I saw my chance to be a hero again, recovering from

my previous error. Win the CK unblocking the jack, and play a spade to the jack. East will win and probably return a

club.

Now I can win and cash the last club. This was the ending:

 

                         S  A

                         H  K76

                         D  --

                         C  --

 

             S  K76                  S  92

             H  --                   H  J92

             D  --                   D  --

             C  9                    C  --

 

                         S  854

                         H  4

                         D  --

                         C  --

 

East still has to make a discard. If he throws a spade, you cash the SA and exit with the H7. East would win and be

endplayed at trick 12 again.

If East throws a heart, you set up the hearts for one loser. Either route leads to a valuable overtrick.  But it

didn't work out that way.

What actually happened when I played a spade to the jack, it was allowed to hold the trick!! Now I had the same

squeeze for a second overtrick, enough to recover all the matchpoints I had dropped on the first hand.