Bridge Deal of the Week (February 14 2018)

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The Auction:

West North East South
1♠ 2♠ Pass 3NT
All Pass      

* Limit raise or better in clubs

You reach 3NT after West overcalled in spades. The 2 is led, East plays the King and you duck. East continues with the 3. Plan the play (clubs are 3-2, with West having 2).


You have only 8 tricks in the form of 5 clubs, 1 diamond, 1 heart and 1 spade. If you try for a diamond trick, the defense threatens to score 3 hearts, 1 spade and 1 diamond.

West is a favorite to hold the K. It should be possible to strip-squeeze him, with spades and diamonds being the key suits. The first question is do you duck the second heart, or do you take the trick? It is sound technique to duck the second heart. If West started with 3 hearts, ducking is required to cut defensive communication in the heart suit (though East's 3 suggests that hearts are 4-4, assuming he returned his original fourth best card). In fact, ducking the heart is required to succeed even though hearts are 4-4. If you don't see the purpose in ducking the heart, you will soon. So you duck the trick, West wins the J, and exits the Q, confirming that the hearts are indeed 4-4 (with QJx in hearts, West would have led the Queen). You win the A perforce, discarding a diamond from dummy.

You play a club to the Ace and a club back to your King, both opponents follow. You play a spade towards dummy (not mandatory, but simplifies the position), West has to duck and you win the Queen. When you play the ♣Q, East follows and West discards a spade. When you play a fourth club, West once again is able to spare another spade with comfort. When you lead the last club however, West is in trouble as he is caught in a three suit strip-squeeze. Here is the position :


 A10 Deal  J
 4  8
 K6  J108
 -  -

You discard a diamond from hand, and West has no good discard. If he discards a spade, you concede a spade and establish your ninth trick in spades. If he discards a diamond, you will play a diamond to the Ace, dropping his King, and the Q will be your ninth trick. A heart discard is no better, for you will have a choice of suits to throw West in. If you play the A and a diamond, West can cash the ♠A but has to concede the thirteenth trick to your ♠K. Or, you can play a spade to the King and West's Ace; he can cash the ♠10, but will have to lead away from the K.

 A10843 Deal  J2
 QJ42  K863
 K6  J1085
 64  J95

Ducking the heart at trick 2 was essential for the timing of the squeeze. Winning the second heart disrupts the timing of the squeeze, since West will have an idle heart that he can discard on the run of the clubs. Generally a strip squeeze operates with threat cards in two suits. This deal featured the rare three suit strip-squeeze.

Par Contract Analysis

3NT by North-South is the par contract on this deal.

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