Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A cross-ruff squeeze

Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction. I was dealt the following hand in a challenge match. While I did not make the ambitious SIX SPADE contract despite negotiating trump for one loser, post-mortem analysis showed how I could make it. The slam is cold on any lead.

The lead was the Jack of hearts. I won in hand, and planned to take two spade finesses. It would be nice not to be missing the spade nine but I had to hope for the best. I advance the Q, covered King and ace. I returned to hand in diamonds and played a second spade up. I guessed to put in the 8 and breathed my first sigh of relief. RHO returned a diamond.

The rest is analysis. I now needed to tread a narrow path, Winning, I need to ruff a diamond and in the following diagrammed position, draw West's last trump. East is squeezed in three suits, (in clubs in a overtaking entry squeeze)

On the ten of spades, East cannot weaken a red suit. A diamond pitch sets up a twelfth trick at once. A heart pitch allows, HA Hruff, setting up long H with Club entry to enjoy the established heart. So East pitches a club. However, declarer now plays CK and CQ and noticing the fall of the J and the T which were made tight, declarer OVERTAKES the CQ with the Ace (see third diagram postion) and advances the now good C9 (this is not a extra 12th trick but a entry creating measure) throwing a heart and THEN playing the last free winner the trump simple squeezing East in the last diagrammed position

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hexagonal squeezes and six-card end positions

In 7NT (an overbid by design) I have twelve top tricks and extended menaces in spades and hearts. They lead a club and I peel off clubs putting pressure on both defenders. There is a dimaond Jack menace against the defender with the Diamond queen who will come under pressure in three suits, in principle. Each defender in turn tries to keep three cards in spades and hearts but is overburdened. I envision the six card ending to be something like the following. Now Ace and King of diamonds turns the screw on the partner of the defender holding on to the diamonds who must weaken one or the other of the extended meance suits.

If he weakens the same extended suit his partner has weakened (if he throws a spade, )declarer gets long spade for his thirteenth -( the situation in heartss and spades is symmetrical, it does not matter that for my example West has chosen to weaken spades somewhat unnaturally from his QJ)

So let us say he throws a heart in the diagrammed position on the second diamond. Now the sole guard of hearts is transferred back to the person with the diamond guard. So simply cash Spade Ace King and West is simple squeezed now.

This is a typical hexagonal squeeze. I learnt this lesson of identifying hexagonal squeezes from a player on the opponents' team, Bill Cole, in a Yale Harvard varsity match of the nineties.

The grand slam is a poor proposition, results notwithstanding, because an attack in communication in either extended menace suit will set the hand. A diamond or club lead allows the make.

In practice, the diagrammed position (the most thematic) was not arrived at, as West let go of diamond guard.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A neat deal. Squeeze play in 6NT

An agricultural auction landed me in 6NT. With the spades breaking, the only testing lead is a heart (else I can establish four spade tricks by losing a spade trick). I misguessed at trick one, or there would be no story. When the Queen was covered by the King, I rectified the count for a possible squeeze by ducking

When E continued hearts, I won, and worked on a double squeeze with the following threat cards H7, CJ, and the third round spade. I had to watch the discards for H8,T,J, CQ and there were guard squeeze possibilities. Indeed, after I cashed C AK, pitching spades, and ran a few diamonds, the first key end position was this, with East having to choose from three evils. If he blanks his SQ, I play a spade to King and pick up the J on a finesse. He cannot let go a Club or dummy's J promotes into a twelfth trick. He chose to be squeezed out of HIS heart guard. On the same trick, I let go the now useless CJ, and his partner was simple squeezed in hearts and spades

Notice that at trick two, East can break up the doubly guarded suit entry by shifting to a low spade, not a easy shift to find.

I shared this deal with my bridge partner, who looked me up and down, and said, the play was not bad, but next time do bid TWO CLUBS and you may get to the laydown SEVEN DIAMONDS. What are partners for?

Monday, February 6, 2017

Plan play in 6NT double dummy. Play or defend?

This real life hand, dealt in a BBO ROBOT IMP tourney provides fascinating scope for double dummy analysis. With best defense, would you care to declare or defend 6NT?

Consider one sample double dummy line on a Diamond lead. Win in hand high, preserving the Ten in dummy. Cash the heart Ace. Advance the SQ, forcing cover all around. Now lead a small heart toward K7. Righty with QJ6 has to split. (If he does not, letting my 7 win, I change horses and build up a club trick by forcing out the king, now 3H+2C+2S+5D =12) Win King and play a heart toward the 98x, establishing a good and long heart (A,K,8, x is 4 heart tricks). East on lead finds that all suits are stopped by declarer, who still has the DT entry, 5Diamonds + 4 hearts + 2 spades + 1 club = 12

Other leads are easier to analyse

So, did you chose to play or defend? What is that? You chose to play? Wrong. The lead of KING of spades prematurely knocks out the dummy entry, leaving you unable to do the fancy trick building footwork in hearts

Monday, January 30, 2017

Defending ONE SPADE, your lead at trick twelve?

You are playing in a matchpointed pairs 8 board individual event, and you are averaging a remarkable 79% after 6 boards. You are now defending ONE SPADE (all Pass). This is what you see. Please click on next for the first few tricks and stop at the diagrammed position.

Have you been counting or have you relaxed in the warm glow of success? How many trump are out. What do you play when you ruff in with the ST. the trump King or the heart. Why? Be specific.

If you have been counting there are 3 trump out in the two card ending. Declarer has 2 and partner has 1. Playing SK is a NULLO play because declarer's last trump will be worth a contract fulfilling trick. No, the only hope is that partner has a high trump and that declarer must helplessly underruff the last two tricks. Return the heart five and feel that warm glow grow into a huge grin. You have won the tourney of 71 people with an over 80 percentage. (In reality I got only 63% for -80 on this board, luckily a forcing NT gets them to a superior club spot or we could compete and go overboard)

The full hand

No doubt you noticed that declarer can always make the contract. It was a poor effort by him not to play a trump collapsing defense's 3 potential tricks. He has at least two opportunities to do so. Also, partner could have ruffed the CJ with his stiff trump Q giving us absolutely no chance to go wrong.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Take partner off that last trick guess

Hugh Kelsey, the bridge writer, in one of his books on Improving Your Partner's Play wrote of an important technique, which is almost an everyday occurrence defending 3NT. The attached example where the mentor sat West and the protege sat East is a case in point.

The ending on the left arose with myself, the expert on lead. I momentarily forgot Kelsey's advice and needlessly put partner to a test or a memory squeeze by cashing my second good spade on trick twelve. Instead, knowing that partner had a club and diamond winner I should exit one trick earlier when partner has two winners left and does not choose the wrong one to throw away. Remember this advice, it will save many disasters in individuals, lower flight games, and in new partnerships.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

That missed "lock" in the ending

A "lock" is a sure thing, a colloquialism among bridge experts. If you play too fast and do not take those extra chances, you may be missing a lock, as I did here.

After a passed hand Drury bid by partner, showing a good 3 or 4 card spade raise, I bid the game. The Queen of clubs was led, won with the Ace in dummy, then followed quickly, club ruff, heart ruff, club ruff, heart ruff (Queen appearing, no idea why)

I now cashed the SK both following, and tried a diamond up to the King. It lost to Lefty. Lefty proceeded to cash DQ, and exited with his last club (a diamond or a spade or a heart hands me the contract). I ruffed, and took stock. When I cashed the Spade Ace the trumps failed to behave and the position was this.

If I had been playing more slowly, I would have realized there is now no need to bank on H"AJ" bringing down a now stiff HK (despite the falsecard). I had a lock! I should play the trump exit (unusual in a cross ruff type of hand), since a) there are no club masters outstanding b) DJ and the club in dummy will either spring to life or I will get a lead into my H:AJ.

Instead, I sadly played the other major suit ace and went one down.

EDIT: If west keeps his HQ, I should ruff out his card of exit, clubs and then play for the endplay which works because Lefty holds all the diamond honors. If I fail to ruff out his card of exit and play a diamond first, he takes his two diamond tricks and exits with HEART QUEEN, I may win but the endplay or stepping stone does not work because he has a card of exit, a club and I must additionally lose a heart to RIGHTY.

Friday, January 20, 2017

A vice-like trump squeeze for 13 tricks

The HA is led against the unambitious contract, but let us assume you are in SEVEN. plan play before reading on.

Let East try to keep parity with dummy in Hearts. You run N minus 2 trump to this end-position.

Now cross to SA,cash SK to turn the screw on E in the hexagonal position

What is E to keep on this trick? If he throws a H equal, advance HQ ruff out, return via CA to enjoy H8. If he throws a club, Cash CA ruff a heart and enjoy C7.

Expertly played 3NT

Ignore the bidding where I had chosen to open 1NT with a stiff King, and was trying to wriggle into three notrump after the transfer

Lead was D4 to the Q and King

I played C9 to the J and Ace, and returned the C4 to the Q and King.

Now west needed to play a Heart but he did not know that on the bidding.

He played DJ, I won, unblocked HK and exited D5, pitching H, (my D9 set up)

Now east was without resource. He tried a club, but instead of running it round to dummy (obvious and wrong) I rose and played three clubs and the established diamond, putting pressure on West in the delayed duck department, in spades and heaarts, he came down to S:AQ H:Q in the three card ending

I pitched all my hearts and one spade and when I played up a spade, West won, and had to give me a Heart stepping stone.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

An Unusual Opportunity for a Discard

They opened one club, partner merely overcalled, after an aggressive evaluation, I first cuebid, then put my partner in the spade game

When a club went to the Ace, and a diamond was returned like an express train, partner took the reasonable line of going up Ace of diamonds and played the King of clubs, pitching a diamond. There was no recovery from here.

This is a curious hand where you need (following the assumption that all the diamonds are bunched up on declarer's left,) to maintain the 8 of diamonds and pitch a heart, because you need the suit-establishment power D8 to set up the D suit for one loser, after trumps are drawn. Therefore the right discard on the King of clubs is a HEART, not the precious D8. Watch. HEART pitch on the King of clubs, spade ace and spade. Now either opponent can arrange to win this trick, although in practice W likely will, and tap dummy with the Queen of clubs. (It makes no difference if W unblocks SK and E wins, and a heart forces north to trump). The next trick is to the Diamond 8 or the diamond 8 led around. North now has TWO trump at least left, to ruff out and set up the diamonds)

So this is a peculiar hand where the suit establishment possibility of AQJ9x opposite 8x indicates it is better to develop this suit with the help of the 8 rather than discard the 8 on a established winner, and get tapped out!!

Welcome to Ramesh's BRIDGE BLOG

In these pages, I comment on hands from Bridge Base Online ACBL tourneys. I play in these with a variety of partners with different degrees of skill. I might present a hand or two from my collection of bridge books, every now and then. I am more interested in play and defense than in complex bidding systems, but I do follow the cut and thrust of Vanderbilt and World Championship Vugraph and try to keep abreast of expert practice in the obstructive and constructive bidding system department. I may also feature, newspaper-style, famous hands from important matches that I saw on Vugraph.

NOTE: For JUNE, I am experimenting with adding BBO's Handviewers, which make bridge movies embedded. Just
scroll down beyond the few sampled book covers and you arrive at the blogs that play themselves with the NEXT button. THANKS, BBO!!

About Me

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Bridge expert for 20 years. I started blogging about bridge only in 2009. Chess follower. Problem fan. Studied hundreds of composition themes in two-movers, fairy chess, the former from the Good Companion era to the modern style of virtual play. Big collector of chess and bridge rare books. My two game blogs bridge blog, and my chess problem themes blog chess expo

My alter ego, The Hideous Hog

My alter ego, The Hideous Hog