Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ruffing squeeze without the count

Update: I decided to try out the BBO handviewer program -- thanks to Memphis Mojo for recommendation and advice, and to Fred Gitelman for the program. So, anyway, you can see the whole deal in much prettier format at the bottom of the post -- but may want to read the story first.

On Thursday, the A/X Swiss played 7 8-board matches, while the lower brackets played 7 X 7. The thing was, the directors put us all on the same clock (I think 40 minutes to start the last board.) Yikes, this wasn’t billed as the Speedball Swiss! Anyway, the constant time pressure figures a bit into this story, also from the 5th match:

Dummy:...KT4....J874...A85 QJ5

Declarer:AQJ953.KQT6...T94 ---

I was dealer, neither vul, and the competitive auction went



3D showed a limit raise+ in spades.

Lefty led the HA (I played the T) and shifted to a club – J, A, ruff. By isolating the club menace against himself, he had given me a chance. I considered the possibilities:

A simple squeeze? This would require ducking a diamond to rectify the count, and the defense wouldn’t have to be especially brilliant to continue diamonds, leaving no entries – the end.

Ok, it would have to be a squeeze without the count. The conditions weren’t right for an ordinary one (control of both suits) – what about a ruffing squeeze without the count? Cash all the trumps but one, then hearts ending in dummy. That leaves Ax Qx in dummy and three diamonds and a trump in hand, and if lefty keeps Kx clubs he has only 2 diamonds, and you can establish the last one in hand…that works! Nice – the kind of hand that makes your day.

Dear Reader, I did work all this out before trick 3, and I did make the contract…I wish I could leave it at that, but journalistic ethics forbid. Recall that we were under time pressure; having taken several minutes to plan the play, I started to play fast once I knew the solution. I pulled 3 trumps (lefty had one), and then, somehow…a small heart came out of my hand. As it hit the table, I realized with horror I had wrecked my perfect ruffing-squeeze-without-the-count, because I could no longer cash hearts ending in dummy as was required. Bob may have seen me shake my head at this point and wondered why. Was there still hope? Yes! Go back to Plan A: If, as wasn’t extremely unlikely, righty had any stiff diamond honor, I could rectify the count for a simple squeeze, and it couldn’t be broken up. I finished the hearts (optional). These cards remained:

--- --- A8x Qx

xx --- T9x ---

I played a diamond to the 8 and K. Righty perforce played a club, ruffed, and I knew a simple squeeze was inevitable. Actually lefty had bared his CK earlier so it appeared now, but that didn’t matter. A less-than-completely-triumphant making 5. At least shifting to the simple squeeze had meant no count guess in the ending! Lefty started with x A QJxxxx Kxxxx.

The whole deal in bridgeviewer, some low spots approximate:

At the other table, Bobby Levin for once fell from grace and duplicated the defense at the first two tricks (HA, club) – hard to envision this layout, I guess.
RJ did say he signaled for diamonds. But the opposing declarer fell at the first small hurdle and didn’t play a club honor from dummy! RJ could play the T and there was no chance of a squeeze – 11 to the good guys.


Memphis MOJO said...

Nice hand, glad you recovered.

If you'd e-mail me, I'll send a quickie on how I do the hand diagrams:

dave dot memphismojo at gmail dot com

Kenny Z said...

My first instinct after seeing what was almost surely a stiff H lead was to think trump were more likely to be 2-2. In that case, I thought the best shot was to play for a strip/ throwin, which works legitimately whenever RHO has KJ, KQ or QJ of diam, and illegitimately whenever he has KX and fails to unblock. To cater for that last possiblility, I would play a diam to the ace at trick 3 (harder for him to figure out at that point that he must unblock.) Then ruff a club, play a trump to dummy, ruff the last club and draw the last trump. Now eliminate the hearts and play a diamond.

Jonathan Weinstein said...

That's true. But if he is indeed 2-1-5-5 as seemed likely, the ruffing squeeze I planned but misexecuted is 100% -- you have a certain count when spades break. Righty can't guard the 3rd diamond, it doesn't matter if he has Hx or xx.

Kenny Z said...

sure Jonathan, but your way works only when declarer possesses your declarer play skills :)

I think it could even work legitimately when the ruffing squeeze without the count does not. Though relatively unlikely, it might be plausible at these colors for LHO to have bid 2nt with XX A KXXXX 1098XX. I think it's pretty clear, however, that playing for that layout would not be the best way to go.