Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why was I sent this hand?

Arch sent me this deal from P. 152 of "Bridge for Money" by David Bird and Martin Hoffman (Review: I found the humor a touch mean-spirited, but I do like this deal):

86 KQJT2
9852 3
J93 AQT8
JT82 653

After E opens 1S, S plays 4H. W leads a spade -- you may want to give it a try (perhaps even single-dummy).

Win the second round. Then 4 rounds of hearts followed by 3 rounds of clubs.

The 4th round of clubs comes in this position:

- QJ
- -
J93 AQ
J -

Clearly East can't pitch a spade, or you ruff and throw him in. But if he pitches a diamond, you pitch a spade and duck West's forced diamond play. The DA is played on air and you can ruff the spade return and cash your DK.

Why did someone send me this particular hand? My first (and probably last -- it took me many years to write) Bridge World article described several positions like this (March 2009, "Ruff or Sluff"). I coined the term "veering squeeze card" to describe the technique.

Basically what's going on is that you have a strip squeeze but are missing one of the requirements -- you don't have control of either suit. If you had a major tenace in diamonds, or if they switched to a trump or club at trick 2, you would have an ordinary strip squeeze (by running three clubs then all trumps). Playing the actual holding along strip lines, RHO can defeat you by keeping two spades and baring the DA on your last trump -- you can duck a diamond to set up your king, but it does no good as RHO cashes two spade winners. With the veering squeeze card, though, you make a loser-on-loser play and retain your trump for control when RHO inevitably leads a spade. You also enlist LHO in leading diamonds for you.

There are a number of variations; for example, in the same ending say you did have a major tenace in diamonds--but none in your hand--then you don't need the trump to control spades, but you do need LHO's help in getting to diamonds if RHO pitches his guard. In the article I covered all of the "basic" varieties I could derive in the article, as well as a couple more esoteric examples. (There's also at least one very complicated hand in _Adventures in Card Play_ that has a similar theme.)

I found working through these very useful for learning more about strip squeezes. I don't expect to ever see a veering squeeze card, but I do expect to find more strip squeezes and defeat more pseudo strip squeezes as a result of the work.

If anyone ever does see one, or constructs a novel arrangement, I'd love to hear about it.

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