The Bulgarian Squeeze

A Sure-Trick Problem

by Manol Iliev

K 2
A 10 9 3 2
K 5
A 10 9 3
A 10 9
J 5 4
A 9 4 3 2
K 2

West leads the queen of diamonds against South's contract of three notrump. How can declarer guarantee the contract against any distribution and defense?

Solution below.


Win with the diamond king and lead the heart deuce to the jack. No problem unless East plays low and West shows out; assume that. Continue with a heart to the nine, taken by East. East cannot safely lead a heart or a club. If East returns a diamond, win with the ace. Unless East started with five diamonds, work on diamonds for a ninth trick. When East is five-five in the red suits, lead a spade to dummy's king. If East follows, lead a club to the king, establishing an extra trick in clubs if East shows out, taking the black aces to strip-squeeze East between the red suits otherwise. If East shows out of spades (he is 0=5=5=3), lead a spade to the ace; if East keeps enough red-suit protection to stop an extra trick in those suits, he can hold at most two clubs, after which club ace-king and a diamond will endplay him. Assume that East returns a spade at trick four.

Win with dummy's king, collecting a spade honor in the process, and lead a diamond. If East follows, win with the ace. If East started with five diamonds, continue as in the previous paragraph; otherwise, lead another diamond and continue working on that suit if West started with three or four diamonds. If East started with four diamonds, and leads a spade (best), finesse the ten. At worst, West wins and leads a black suit, after which East is subject to a red-suit strip-squeeze. Assume that East shows out at trick five.

Duck the trick to West. His only safe leads are in the minors. If he leads a high diamond, discard the three of clubs from dummy and duck. Now West's only safe lead is a club. Win with the king, collecting a club honor in the process. Cash the diamond ace, discarding a spade from dummy. If East keeps only two hearts, ace and one heart will set up a heart in dummy and force the defender to lead a black suit, either making the club ten a winner or allowing it to be discarded on the ace of spades. If East keeps three hearts, cash the ace of spades, discarding a heart from dummy. Then, if East has only two hearts, play ace and another heart; otherwise, finesse the ten of clubs, either winning the trick of enabling dummy to win the rest. Assume that West leads a club at trick six.

Win with the king, collecting a club honor in the process (playing dummy's nine on a low lead). Cash the diamond ace, discarding a spade from dummy. In the six-card ending, West has two diamonds; East must keep three hearts, else ace and another heart will establish a heart and endplay him. That leaves East-West only seven black cards, so they have at most three cards in some black suit.

(1) If East-West have at most three spades, cash the spade ace, discarding a club from dummy. (a) If East shows out, play ace and another heart to endplay him. (b) If West shows out, finesse the ten of clubs (either winning the trick or forcing East eventually to lead into a heart tenace) (c) If both opponents follow low, finesse dummy's ten of clubs. If this loses, East may cash a spade but then must lead into a heart tenace; if, instead, East wins and exits with a club to dummy's ace, a low heart endplays him.

(2) If East-West have at most three clubs, lead a club. (a) If West shows out and (a1) East has two clubs, play ace and another club; or (a2) East has three clubs, play dummy's low club to begin a double endplay against East. (b) If West follows with a low club, finesse dummy's ten. Then: (b1) If East shows out, cash dummy's aces and lead a heart, eventually scoring the spade ace. (b2) If East wins and exits with a club, cash dummy's clubs; if East keeps three hearts lead a low heart, or if East keeps two hearts play ace and another heart.


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