The Squeeze-Trim-Endplay: Hand
Less than two weeks after constructing this section of the website, this hand came up in actual play. I attended to it only because of the multiple squeeze possibilities; eventually I noticed that it could be played as a squeeze-trim-endplay. The hand:
You open 2 and rebid 2NT over your partner's 2 response. Your partner takes you to 3NT. The opening lead is a high spade.
With the spade lead, you have 11 tricks and are looking for a 12th. IMO, the best chance is the double finesse in hearts. Declarer went to the board on the second round of diamonds, took a losing heart finesse, and another spade came back. Declarer eschewed the second finesse in hearts for a squeeze. As you can see, there are multiple squeeze possibilities.
On the actual hand, both the K and Q of hearts were offside. There is nothing in the bidding to let you know that. But suppose you knew that. Imagine that Lefty overcalled 2H or opened 3H. How could you play the hand?
Answer: You run your diamonds, coming down to this in your hand:
If Lefty has saved only two hearts, the KQ, you duck a round of hearts (or play ace and out a heart) to win the rest of the tricks.
If Lefty has saved three hearts, then Lefty has at most 3 cards in the black suits. Hopefully Lefty has 2 or fewer spades and one or zero clubs, for then you cannot guess wrong. Otherwise, you have to guess which suit Lefty has an exit in and play off the winners in the other suit. If Lefty has three spades, the lead of the ace of clubs will squeeze out the nontrimmable spade; if Lefty has 2 clubs, the lead of the two top spades will squeeze out the nontrimmable club.
Then, when you are done squeezing and trimming the exit cards, you exit with a heart. Lefty wins and has to return a heart into your AJ.
Of course, the problem with playing the hand this way is that you have to know that Lefty has both the K and Q of hearts. The problem is that you cannot trim both black suits and end up in dummy to lead a heart. If you could do that, you could make the hand with a squeeze-trim-endplay even if the hearts were split. Again, you run the diamonds, coming down to
Now what you do depends on how well you can read the situation. The double heart hook has a 75% chance of success, which goes down to 67% once it loses.
Playing the hand as a squeeze-trim-endplay has 100% success, but only if you read the situation correctly,. The problem, of course, is reading the situation correctly.
If Lefty comes down to Kx or Qx of hearts, then you can simple finesse hearts twice and make six. If Lefty comes down to KQ doubleton of hearts, you can play your ace, dropping the queen, then knock out the king and make six. You will almost certainly misguess this. If Lefty comes down to Kxx or Qxx of hearts, you can trim (or at least try to trim), then run an endplay. Of course, the double finesse would have worked in this situation too. The advantage to the squeeze-trim-endplay is that it also works when Lefty has KQx of hearts.