Eric Sieg

Double Squeeze at 1NT?

Squeezes. The tactic that separates the men from the boys (and women from the girls!). New bridge players give blank looks when squeezes come up in discussion, while bridge experts will nod knowingly and offer comments like “there is a squeeze on 1 out of every 6 deals”. Anyone can finesse, but where is the artistry in that?

Even though I frequently find squeezes, I still get excited every time I pull one off. Last Saturday playing with my girlfriend we had an okay set. But who cares? I pulled off a squeeze on the 2nd board in 3NT to make the contract. One thing I haven’t done too often, however, is pull off a double squeeze in a 1 NT contract. I used to think it was because I lacked imagination, I lacked ability, or was only able to find squeezes when they held up neon signs saying “THERE MIGHT BE A SQUEEZE HERE”. A few weeks ago, however, I did pull off a double squeeze in a 1 NT contract and I think its driven home the WHY of why I find so few complex squeezes in low level contracts.

After 1 – 1 – 1 NT (opps silent) I found myself in 1NT with LHO leading the 8 .


I loved the lead! Now I had 7 tricks almost for sure with plenty of chances for 8. RHO played the T and I won with the K and returned the 9. Eat won that with the A and returned a small club. Well, clubs probably aren’t breaking but maybe the A will be onside. West beat my club K with the A and returned a small heart. Usually I love it when opponents switch suits constantly but without any useful spots.. I wasn’t enjoying it this time. I played the Q of hearts which RHO beat with the A to return another small club. I ducked this one to west who won with the T. At this point, I assumed another heart was coming which I wouldn’t like terribly much. However, W switched back to diamonds! Now I found myself on lead as declarer in a very unusual situation for 1NT: I was on lead with control in every suit but no real suit to set up or finesse to take. Here is a picture of the hand at this point:



West East
♠H??? ♠H??
♥J9? ♥T?

With no clear drive to set up a long trick somewhere, I decided the best play would be ducking a spade. I did and E won with the 9. Now they exited a club! This was exactly what I was hoping for as it set up a nice squeeze if the layout was as I imagined (with lots of clues that it probably was). I won the K of clubs (west pitching a small heart), and crossed to the A of spades. Now here was the layout:



West East
♠J5 ♠Q
♥J9 ♥Tx

Aka a pretty standard double squeeze situation. On the play of the K of spades, everyone followed while I pitched a heart. On the J of diamonds, E had to pitch a heart to guard clubs, I pitched a club, and W had to pitch a heart to guard spades. The heart to the K pulled the last hearts, and the 8 of hearts took the last trick for the precious “matchpoint” 8th trick.

The thing is, I don’t think I did anything brilliant on this deal. Instead, I got a LOT of help from opponents who let me set up the end position to make the double squeeze happen. I got: a passive diamond lead from someone afraid to lead from J9xx. I had an LHO exit passively in a diamond again even though I was marked (imo) to not have the T of hearts (maybe playing their partner for 4 diamonds though?). I also had RHO exit with a club near the end which let the squeeze actually manifest. Had they exited with a spade or heart the squeeze doesn’t work. With a spade, the squeeze dies immediately whereas with a heart I lose transportation. So I guess what this deal showed me is that I don’t suck for not finding double squeezes and such at low level contracts all the time, but that opportunity at low levels is rare. There is a reason everyone uses 6NT and 3NT examples for books etc, and that is because they are a LOT easier to set up and a lot more common 😛 Now the WHY of it makes sense on why low level squeezes are harder to pull off – the opponents will usually have a lot more opportunity to mess with your plans. However, actually pulling one off and then examining how much help I had on the way really reinforced that lesson.

p.s. I’m not sure why the hand diagrams are so friggin huge. Will try to reduce that as soon as I figure out how ;P

The “never happened before” Moments

I played a bit in a sectional this past weekend and had two things happen that I’d never personally been involved in before.

1) Bid and made 3 NT where the other table passed out the hand. Difference in hand evaluation I guess 🙂

2) Been involved in a Swiss where 40% of the field was within a 5 VP spread after the end of the event (30 point scale). 1st in A was 116, 4th was 111.

This got me to thinking a bit about those rare things. Most video games these days have trophies or accomplishments for rare occurrences. Gamers will then spend hours upon hours going for their last few achievements just so they can claim to have done it all. What might a similar list for bridge “achievements” or “trophies” look like? Here’s one such list, with what I’ve done and what I still have to do (skipping the “win x” stuff because what’s the fun in that?):

Bid and make slam after opponents open the bidding at the 1 level: Yep

Bid and make a slam after opponents open 1 NT strong: Nope

Bid and make a grand after the opponents open at the 1 level: Nope* (see below)

Be involved in a double slam swing: Yep (both slams bid and made)

Bid and make 3NT while opponents pass it out at teams: Yep

Bid and make a slam while opponents play a part score at teams: Yep

Bid and make a grand while opponents play a part score at teams: Almost – we wimped out and bid 6.

Doubled contract making for a push: Yep

Redoubled contract making for a push: Nope

Bring back -1400 and win imps: Yep

Bring back -1700 or worse and win imps: Nope

Give up a ruff and sluff on the opening lead: Yep

Ruff and over ruff on the opening lead: Yep

Bid and make a (known) moysian game: Yep

Bid and make a (known) moysian slam: Nope

Bid and make a (known) 5-2 fit slam: Yep

Bid and make a (known) 5-2 fit grand: Nope

Then a few entertaining (at least after the fact) ones like:

Play your bergen raise: Yep

Play your exclusion bid: Nope (although I guess Garner can say yep to this one)

Get passed in your forcing opening (1c or 2c): Nope

What does your list look like? What might be some other good additions to the list?

*There was one hand where I strongly considered bidding a grand after LHO opened at the 1 level. Here was the hand/bidding:

West North East South
1 1 P 2♥*
3 3 P 5♣**
P 5 P ?

*Natural and forcing


Now with:

Axx AQJT9xx J9x –

I was strongly considering bidding grand. It obviously depended on just how good partner’s diamonds were. We wouldn’t typically overcall a minor on Axxxx, but if she had AQxxx (no T) I could lose a diamond even with the K onside. I also felt slam would probably be a big pickup, so I wimped out and bid 6.

Dummy hit with:

Qx Kxx AQTxx xxx

and the K of diamonds was onside. While stopping in 6 was the correct tactical decision, I still regret not bidding 7 as I’ve never had the opportunity come up again.. and had it not worked we would have still won the match handily. Oh well 🙂

Back to Bridge!

So after a few months off while graduating college (yay!) and getting a job I finally got back into bridge this past November. I hadn’t really played since the Houston NABC so there have been a few mental adjustments while I get back into the swing, as can be seen on the following hand:

West North East South
1♣* P 1♥**

P 3 P 4

*Doesn’t show clubs, could be void if 4450 shape

** Promises 5

As the illustrious west who vigorously passed, I was now on lead with: JT9xx x KJxx Kxx. As I dislike leading away from kings against game contracts (unless the auction screams for it) and I hate singleton trump leads, the J of spades was a standout lead. Dummy hit with:

Kx AT3 x AQJ9xxx

and play went: Declarer won the A of spades. She then finessed the Q of hearts from her hand into partner’s K. Partner went A of diamonds (I encouraged) and a diamond and declarer hesitated and then played the Q which I covered with the king. This was ruffed in dummy with the ten of hearts. Declarer then played A of clubs and Q of clubs (partner pitching a diamond on the 2nd club) and I was on lead with after winning the K. Here is the hand situation now that I get to make a decision:



West East
T9xx Qxx
Jx xx

It seemed like I basically had 2 options. I could play a diamond. Declarer ruffs their diamond loser on the board, comes to their hand with a club (since they know I’ve got another) and draws trump. Alternatively if I lead a spade, they can play the J of clubs. If partner ruffs in they over ruff and cross to dummy w/ the ace of hearts (pulling the last trump) and cash their good clubs. If partner doesn’t ruff it their diamond goes away on the club and then they can play the A of hearts and ruff a club to their hand to draw the last trump. I thought about it for a bit and decided I didn’t see a valid way to win. I did think if I played a spade declarer might error and play the A of hearts first instead of clubs (letting us beat the contract) so that’s what I did.

Horrible Error. While I got lucky at the table, the correct play is the diamond and hope partner has the 9 of hearts (which they could have). Now declarer trumps their diamond loser but gained a trump loser in the process (partner has 9x of hearts and declarer has J8xxx with no way to finesse). So.. this might have been a bit boring but I think the hand does get interesting looking at it from declarer’s perspective.

Now, you are in 4 hearts and on the J of spades lead you have some work to do:


Dummy yelled at his partner for not playing clubs at trick 2, but I’m not sure its a trivial hand to play. There are lots of things to think about on this hand. Trump diamonds? or set up clubs? When do we want to use the 1 reliable trip to our hand? When we get to our hand, which finesse do we take? What line caters to more of the various possible situations in hearts, diamonds, and clubs?

Clubs could be (left – right) Kxx – x or Kx – xx or xx – Kx. It could also be xxx – K or K – xxx but both feel a lot less likely (3 ways to make Kxx – x while only 1 to make xxx – K).

Hearts could be 2/2 or 3/1 with the K and/or 9 in either location. Only consideration is that if RHO has a stiff club, they will have at least 2 hearts (nobody is quiet with 6/5 distribution).

Diamond distribution doesn’t matter, but the AK do. LHO won’t have both the A and K but RHO might have both or they could be split.

So with all that jabbering, I think there are a few valid ways to start the hand (will edit in analysis later):

1) Win the K of spades and play A of hearts and a heart.

2) Win the K of spades a start a diamond. If they come back a spade (almost always) then take a club finesse. Minor chance they’d switch to hearts which would be nice.

3) Win the A of spades, finesse a heart (Running the Q)

3b) Win the A of spades, finesse a heart (small to the T)

4) Win the A of spades, finesse a club

5a/b) Win the K of spades, play a spade to the A, and go with 3 or 4.

Will edit back later with analysis of each, but if someone reads this before then… what approach do you like best? I’m also curious what bridge baron will pick, so will set up the hands and give it a while to think on that as well.

Hello! :)

Just got set up today. Will put a real post up either tonight or tomorrow morning.