A Rare Trump Squeeze

Tom Kniest, Clayton MO, uses the "seesaw" double threat to make his doubled contract.

Originally published in the District 8 Advocate.

Trump squeezes are rare and difficult to set up, but when one comes along, it usually makes a good story. And there's never a better time to successfully execute one than in the finals of a national event.

This hand was played by Tom Kniest and Ed Schultz of St. Louis in the finals of the 1995 North American Pairs in Cincinnati. The end position is unusual because it involves the threat that one of two suits will be set up with a ruff and it requires late entries to both hands. This variation of a progressive trump squeeze, called a "seesaw" squeeze by Terence Reese, helped Tom and Ed place seventh overall in the national finals.

Ed's 2S was a tactical bid to "set the defense". He expected to have to compete to 3H anyway, and if the opponents bid on, he wanted to suggest a spade lead. 

North's opening lead to 3H doubled was the heart 3. South played the jack and Tom, West, won the king. That solved any possible spot-card problems in the trump suit, but Tom still needed the club ace onside (which he thought was very likely on the bidding) and a 2-2 trump break (highly unlikely, considering the play to the first trick). 

To give himself an extra chance, Tom first crossed to dummy's spade ace and led a club. South rose with the club ace and led ace and another diamond, which North won. North now cashed the heart ace and exited with his last heart, South discarding a club and a diamond. 

At this point, Tom was fairly certain that South had started with 4 spades (since North hadn't made a negative double), 1 heart, 3 diamonds and 5 clubs. Tom won the trump lead with dummy's heart 8, and this was the position at trick #8: 

Tom now led dummy's 9 of diamonds, which forced South to shorten himself in either clubs or spades. Whichever one he chooses, Tom ruffs the diamond lead, cashes the winner in the suit South pitched, and sets up its long card with a ruff. The long-suit winner was the ninth trick and, as might be expected, +530 was a clear top. 

This type of squeeze is unusual because it works only if you can keep and use an entry in either hand after you ruff out the unguarded suit. Here, declarer can re-enter the hand with the long-suit winner by cashing and ruffing the other black suit.

      West (Tom)           East (Ed)
       102                AK74
       KQ962              10854
       Q7                 982
       K542               63
      West     North    East    South 
      Pass     Pass     Pass     1C
       1H       2D       2S     DBL
      Pass     Pass      3H     Pass
      Pass     DBL      All Pass 

  End position:
      10                     K74
      Q9                     10
      K54                    6

Copyright 1997 -- Karen Walker