Fuzzy Squeeze Example 3

Consider this hand:

QJ10x           K98x 
J7                 K9432 
x                  xxx 
Q109xxx       x 

Playing matchpoints, the auction was 1NT-3NT. The opening lead was a spade. Declarer won the third round, pitching a club from the board. Declarer has 9 tricks off the top.

I think that if you look at just declarer's hand and the dummy, you would see no obvious way to try for a tenth trick. You can try the club finesse, but if it loses, the opps might cash two spades and set you. You can try to lead to the queen of hearts, but you have the same problem even if the king is onside.

Seeing the other hands might not help either. Do you have a squeeze? No, among other problems you can't rectify the count. As the cards lie, you can set up a heart trick simply enough, by leading ace of hearts and then heart to the king. But then RHO cashes a spade and your 10 of hearts is the 14th trick.

And what about just cashing nine tricks like a putz? That works.

Declarer first cashed his diamonds. West can afford throw three diamonds, but West is squeezed on the last diamond. At least tecnically. If Wesnt throws a spade, declarer can lead the queen of hearts from dummy, forcing a cover of the king and then ace, then lose a trick to the jack of hearts. If West throws a heart, declarer can lead the queen of hearts from dummy smothering the jack.

This is a winner squeeze. The structure is would be more obvious if declarer had led the queen of hearts from dummy before cashing the last diamond.

According to traditional squeeze theory, West is squeezed into giving up a trick. Traditional squeeze theory is almost always "double dummy". In reality, declarer was probably not going to do either of these. Because West could not be sure that partner had the 13th spade, West pitched a heart.

According to fuzzy squeeze theory, West has to give up a card he would rather keep. Depending on the play of the hand, that heart might be useful, but the spade could be useful too.

Now declarer played a club back to king and another club to the ace in this situaton.


J                  x 
J                  K9x 
--                 -- 
Q9                 -- 


Double-dummy, which is how squeezes are traditionally analyzed, declarer already has two of the remaining three tricks. East can prevent declare from winning all three of the last three tricks. So, by traditional analysis, there is no squeeze here, East can safely pitch a spade.

So West pitched a spade. Declarer then played a heart to the ace -- cashing his ninth trick. When he now leads a heart to the queen, East wins and has only a heart to lead to declarer's 10.

As promised, simply taking nine tricks off the top has magically produced a tenth trick. Declarer took no risks. Declarer did nothing clever or tricky. Declarer could be a mastermind in disguise, but the reality is that a beginner could have played the hand this way.

Let's return to the play of the last club winner. If East did not have to pitch a card, then declarer can make two tricks by the clever play of running the queen of hearts and only 1 trick by the simpleton play of cashing the ace of hearts. When East pitched a spade, it guaranteed that declarer would make two tricks no matter how he played the hand.

So it was in a sense a "strategy squeeze". Let's assume that declarer is going to play the hand the same way no matter what East pitches. Then East gives up a trick if he guesses wrong, though he does not give up a trick if he guesses right.

Fuzzy squeeze theory says that when you are giving up a card you do not want to give up, you are being squeezed. So East was fuzzy squeezed. It is a pseudo fuzzy-squeeze when, if you could know all of the hands, then you would have cards you do not mind discarding. In this case, it was a true fuzzy squeeze.

I believe that East misdefended this hand. He can know from the bidding that declarer has the ace of hearts and hence 9 tricks. He cannot place the jack of hearts. However, he and his partner have retained two spades. (He knows from the opening lead that his partner has the other spade.) A basic principle of fuzzy squeeze defense is:

1. Declarer will not risk his contract for an overtrick.

So declarer was not going to take the heart finesse. (probably) In fact, there would have been no need to cover the queen of hearts if it was led from dummy.

Declarer can know that West has left one or two spades and a club, hence at most one heart. Would West have pitch a heart early in the play from Kx? Unlikely. But he was fuzzy squeezed, and in fact he might have had to. More to the point, most declarers don't count out the hand.