Friday, July 11, 2008

Squeeze declarer, but don't hug him

I went to the local bridge club last night. Playing online is fun, but you have to be careful -- if you never get out, you can turn into a mushroom. Mushrooms don't need much light, sustenance or activity.

Midway through the game, a random couple came to my table and the guy on my right opened 1; this was alerted as a big club. I held: 9 A 10 9 K 8 6 J 10 8 6 3 2. You could bid 2, but you are vulnerable and you are a mushroom and mushrooms pass. So did I. The lady on my left bid 1, also alerted, and the man on my right bid 3NT. It's your lead.

I tried the J. The last time I led low from this holding, they won the 9. It looks like the mushroom should have asked about the alert of 1 -- it showed a club suit. These are all four hands (rotated):

10 5
7 6 5
A 3 2
A Q 9 5 4
9 J 8 7 6 3
A 10 9 Q 8 2
K 8 6 J 10 9 4
J 10 8 6 3 2 7
A K Q 4 2
K J 4 3
Q 7 5

Declarer won the K in his hand and cashed the A K getting the bad news (I discarded a low club). He now led a diamond to the ace and cashed the A Q, discarding two low spades. Partner was under some pressure. She finally discarded the 8 2, which is discouraging in our methods.

Declarer advanced the 7 from dummy to the queen, king and my ace. I returned the 10 and he erred by ducking. According to Deep Finesse, he can make the contract if he wins the jack.

I had not cashed the J, but did so now. Declarer was squeezed -- look what happened. If he discarded a diamond, he no longer had a stopper there. But if he discarded a heart or the Q, he'd be discarding a winner! After thinking about if for a while, he released a low heart.

I exited with a heart to his J. He cashed his Q and the long heart, but had to play a diamond from his hand for down one.

There were 10 tables in play with a skip, so 8 was top on a board. Surprisingly, we only scored 2.5. There were four plus 100s our way, four plus 200s, and one minus 800. The mushroom was right not to bid, after all! Besides, if he bid, he would have lost his chance for the rare declarer squeeze!

I'm going to Las Vegas for nearly two weeks. I'll be leaving next Thursday (7/17) for the North American Bridge Championships (NABC). I'll give details later, so stay tuned.

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