The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

An opportunity …

Playing in the Swiss Teams (with a new partner) I had an interesting defensive problem. I (as East) held the following

S: Txxx H: T8xx D: Axx C: Ax

and heard the following auction by the opponents

---   ---
1NT   2C  [1NT is 15-17 High Card Points]
2S    3S
4S    Pass

Partner led the club deuce and I saw the following dummy

S: Kxxx H: Txxx D: KQ8 C: xx

I won the club ace and continued with my club spot (the un-readable seven, IIRC). Partner — not being endowed with second sight — switched to a diamond … king – ace – small.

You’ve taken three tricks. Partner could have either major ace, in which case the hand is already over. But what do you do?

Amazingly, the correct answer is …. return a diamond and this is something you can figure out with the information at hand. Declarer has four spades (from the answer to stayman) and five clubs (assuming partner led fourth best). That makes her shape likely 4=2=2=5. Declarer has the Queen of clubs (since partner would have won the queen from KQxx) and the jack of clubs (since partner would have won the jack from KJxx.

If she has the diamond jack and the heart ace as well, she makes by 4 spades + 1 Heart + 2 Diamonds + 3 Clubs. So partner needs either the diamond jack or the heart ace. But not both! What if partner has the diamond jack and the heart king? You can see the end position after declarer runs spades and three more clubs…

Dummy H: J D: Q8

Partner H: K D: J9

Declarer H: Q D: T C: x (good)

When declarer leads the good club partner is squeezed in the red suits. Declarer doesn’t even need the heart queen or diamond ten … partner would have already thrown the queen of hearts earlier.

What if you lead a diamond and partner had the heart ace all long? Well, if declarer has the diamond jack, she only gets one pitch from dummy, so partner still gets the heart ace. The only time switching to a diamond costs a trick is if partner started with AQ of hearts … (if partner had the AK then the bidding makes no sense and partner would have led it). Even then we still set the contract (instead of down two). At teams, that’s fine.

What if declarer has a stiff heart and was 4=1=3=5 (allowable by the new ACBL rules if the heart singleton is an honor). Then declarer can’t get any pitches on the diamonds (if she has the jack) and will still lose a heart (unless she also has the ace, in which case nothing matters).

Nope, the absolutely correct play is to break up the squeeze at trick four by leading diamonds to break up communications. Now when declarer runs her black suit winners, partner can tell (once I pitch on the first club) what is declarers shape is and hold onto Kx of hearts and wait.

(You can also break up the squeeze by holding up the diamond ace at trick three, which means that the count is not rectified …this may get into some weird strip squeezes but in general will work).

Sadly, this was an opportunity lost because I woodenly shot back a heart at trick four. And partner had the magic hand J9 of diamonds and K of hearts. Making four on a squeeze. Only after the hand did I realize that I could have broken it up (two ways!).

Written by taogaming

October 12, 2021 at 5:14 pm

Posted in Bridge

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