Saturday, October 10, 2009

Jennbridge: Tres Elegant!

I had an average looking hand take an interesting turn a few weeks ago at matchpoints:

♠  K53
♥  K95
♣ A109

Against relatively inexperienced players I opened a 14-16 notrump and partner bid 2, a transfer to spades. RHO doubled the transfer and, as I had 3 spades, I accepted it by bidding 2. Pard invited with 3 and I passed. LHO led the K and the dummy was:

♠  AJ872
♥  63
♦  742
♣  KJ3

♠  K53
♥  K95
♦  A1098
♣ A109

At least my K was placed well. I would need to guess well in spades and clubs, however. I ducked the diamond and when LHO continued with the queen, RHO ruffed! He then cashed the heart ace and continued with the heart queen to my king, LHO following. In an effort to obtain information, I ruffed my last heart, LHO showing out. Now I led a spade to my king and a spade toward the dummy, LHO showing out again. OK--now I should have a count on the hand. RHO started with 4S, 6H, 1D and therefore 2 clubs.

How to play the clubs?  As LHO had casually pitched 2 clubs for her discards, I decided to play RHO for the queen doubleton.  Accordingly, I played the king of clubs and led a club toward my hand.  Hmmm . . . no queen. . . now what? I won the ace and here were the remaining cards:

♠  J8
♥  ---
♦  7
♣ J

♠  5
♥  ---
♦  A10
♣ 10

I studied these cards for a while, unwilling to concede defeat. I had already lost 3 tricks and had a sure trump loser. And then a vision of loveliness came into view . . . yes! I would exit with a spade and RHO's forced heart return would squeeze LHO! RHO duly won his spade queen and when he returned a heart I pitched my club and ruffed on the board. LHO had to discard from the club queen and the Jx of diamonds. Her diamond pitch enabled me to score my ace and 10 of diamonds, making my contract. Plus 140 was a tie for top.

What a fascinating play. The squeeze couldn't be executed with my cards alone. I had to have the extra pressure brought to bear by one of the opponents.  Giving up the trump trick I had to lose anyway actually rectified the count for the squeeze.

"Tres Elegant!" said my partner, Bob K.  "Merci", I smiled.
Update:  A further analysis of this hand reveals that the club finesse is unnecessary in any case.  Once a count of the hand reveals that RHO started with only two clubs, the ace and king can be played without regard for the queen as the squeeze always operates if the queen does not appear.  For a further description of this squeeze check out the upcoming letter in The Bridge World!

See you at the table!

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