Any type of squeeze can have small variations. They can be noted, but they are probably too numerous to catalog. One was presented in the two-suited winner squeeze: declarer had a singleton in one of the threat suits. This is another minor variation, but I think of interest for several reasons, including that it occurred in actual play.
This is from 12/12/07, club play. Matchpoints. The contract was 3NT.
The defense was an opening lead of the queen of spades, then a spade to the king, and then a third round of spades. As you can see, declarer has 9 tricks off the top. Declarer also does not know how spades are dividing. So declarer is going to just take his 9 tricks. Also, should he lose a trick to anyone, a spade is cashed and declarer makes only 9 tricks anyway.
There is only one suit where a further trick can be gained by brute force: hearts. Declarer can win the third round of hearts. But that is the 14th trick.
Now observe the effect of running 5 diamond tricks on Lefty. Lefty must save 3 clubs. That is an essential feature of the winners squeeze. If Lefty also pitches a spade, then the heart trick can be lost to Lefty. (Lead the queen of hearts, then duck a heart.) If Lefty does not pitch a spade, then Lefty has bared the jack of hearts and the tenth trick can be gained by leading the queen of hearts to smother the jack.
Comments on this Hand
This particular card combination, where both opponents must guard the suit, lends itself to variations and complications in squeezes. But in this case, the structure is about the same as for the simple winner squeeze. Suppose early on declarer leads the queen of hearts and it is covered by the king and won with the ace. Then before the last diamond is cashed, the situation is:
The last diamond forces Lefty to discard the spade winner, in a fairly typical winner squeeze.
More to this Hand
Best defense is for Lefty to discard his winning spade and save two hearts. But that was very difficult for Lefty to do, because declarer might have had the 13th spade. So Lefty discarded a heart, coming down to this situation after diamonds had been cashed:
As noted, Lefty has already been squeezed. The queen of hearts can be led, smothering the jack and creating the tenth trick.
But declarer, for whatever reason, was unwilling to do that. Instead, he led a club to the king and then another club to the ace, producing this position with Righty still having to throw one card.
This is not a simple position to analyze. I think this is the best way of analyzing this situation. Lefty does not know what declarer is going to do. If declarer is going to lead the queen of hearts, then pitching a heart gives up a trick. There is no squeeze. The queen of hearts lead, by the way, is reasonable. Declarer could have counted the hand to realize that Lefty has a singleton heart, and it would be much more likely for Lefty to bare the jack of hearts than the king.
But if declarer is going to lead a heart to the ace, then a heart to the king, then Righty has to save a spade and pitch a heart.
So, I am going to call this a pseudo-squeeze. Righty knows the cards, but he does not know what declarer will do.
In the actual play, Righty saved three hearts and pitched the spade winner. Declarer now led a heart to ace, a heart to the queen forcing the queen, and won the last trick because Righty had been pseudo-squeezed out of his spade winner.
There is a beautiful way to view this hand. I gave this hand to a good player and asked if he would rather try to make 10 tricks as declarer or 4 tricks on the defense. He could not see any way to get a tenth trick, so he choose to defend. Yet declarer took 10 tricks. Declarer did not use any clever strategy; declarer did not see through the back of the cards; declarer probably did not even count out the hand. Declarer just cashed his nine winners, and the tenth appeared.
Actual Play (almost)
This is a hand from actual play (1/31/08), except I have added the 10 of diamonds to dummy and perhaps converted a diamond in the dummy to a club.
The contract was 3NT, the opening lead was a small spade, and declarer won the third round of spades. In actual play, without the 10 of diamonds, the best play seems to be to lead towards the king of diamonds. If the ace is onside, or Righty has the queen of diamonds too, the contract is made. In the actual layout, that fails.
Adding the ten of diamonds gives you a choice of which way to play the diamonds, but unless you can guess better than chance, you still have the same 75% of making the hand.
Now observe the effect of running 4 rounds of hearts. On the fourth heart, Lefty is winner squeezed. If he pitches a spade, the diamonds can be set up safely. If he pitches a club, declarer might not know to cash clubs, but that play does set up the ninth trick in clubs. Finally, if he pitches a diamond, the guess in diamonds is removed, because he is down to a singleton diamond.
If Lefty had started with 5 spades, then the squeeze would work with the same ruthless efficiency, even if Lefty has the ace of diamonds.
Next: An Impractical but Gorgeous Winner Squeeze Variation
Next: Concluding remarks