Tuesday, March 2, 2010

To finesse or squeeze

Slam Hands are fun to write about, especially when there's a squeeze. In this hand, Ramesh and I got to 6D. 1C was 16+, 2C was diamonds and game-force, 2H natural denying 3D, 4D keycard for diamonds, 4H 1 or 4. Taking 4H as 0 or 3 and forgetting that I would have bid 2D earlier with any 3 card support, he signed off. 7NT is a good contract. too bad diamonds split 5-1, leaving you with only 12 tricks.
The question is, in 7NT, do you play for a straight up heart finesse for the 13th trick or try some other line of play?

Once you run the 4 diamonds and spades, you find spades to be 5-2 and then on the run of the clubs, you find west with 4, meaning hearts started out 3-3. You need to cash all 11 winners except the A of hearts, ending in the south hand. The 3 card ending looks like this:
N - S5, HA, HQ
E - HK, H6, DT
S - HT, D3, CT
W - ST, HJ, H7

When south plays the good club, west must hold his good spade or north's 5 will be the 13th trick. So when west discards a heart, north discards a spade. East must hold the good diamond or south's 3 will score the 13th trick. So when south leads a heart at trick 12, the K is surely dropping under the ace regardless of who has it because each defender had to hold another winner and therefore has only 1 heart. A double squeeze!

Of course, if west had been on opening lead and led a heart, that kills the squeeze immediately because declarer needs to heart ace as an entry late in the hand.

Out of 16 tables, only 2 made 7 - 1 got a heart lead away from the king and one got east to pitch a diamond on the 3rd spade. The vast majority got a spade lead and only made 6. Not one west out of 9 led a heart. A club lead also cuts cummunication enough to defeat 7NT, but not if declarer is really thinking ahead and cashes the KQ of spades immediately, goes over the the diamond K, and cashed the A of spades, pitching a heart, before testing diamonds. Really, that can't lose anything, except maybe a minute or two when diamonds split nicely.


  1. Nice hand. I think David Bird calls this a "simple squeeze played as a double" because only one person can be guarding the pivot suit, so only one person is actually getting squeezed, but you don't need to know which one it is. It's a bona fide double squeeze if the QH becomes the four.

    Usually you don't get enough information in hands like these to make the contract 100% (hooray for bad splits!). Occasionally you get to see that LHO is keeping a guard on something, which gives you a show-up squeeze; but usually that's just a small extra chance added to your finesse (dropping an offside singleton king in this case). But what if you only know that RHO is guarding something?

    E.g. suppose you run that line of play but everyone follows to three rounds of the black suits, with West pitching three hearts on the minor suits and East pitching a low heart on the fourth club. There are two cases: (1) West was 4=4=1=4 or (2) 3=5=1=4 (with the KH). Either (1) you just squeezed East into unguarding his doubleton KH, or (2) you didn't squeeze anyone out of anything and West is down to Kx of hearts. Of course (2) is by far the percentage play against decent opponents, but maybe you noticed East squirming as you ran your winners...

  2. nice additional analysis. it would be a more spectacular squeeze had I not held the HQ, but then a heart lead from either defender breaks it up. and, yeah, is spades were 4-3, it's a clear favorite to play for a heart finesse than a squeeze.

  3. Oh, boy, thanks for reminding me of this hand. Was abysmal bidding on my part :(
    Would have been more interesting if we really landed in 7nt.

    Hmm, nothing more to add. What a waste of bytes !