The Squeeze-Trim-Endplay: Hand

This hand was constructed (or discovered, or reported) by Tim Bourke. It appeared in Eddie Kantar's Test Your Play column in the ACBL's October 2005 Bridge Bulletin.



The contract is 6; the opening lead is the K. Your partner opened 1, you responded 1, and Lefty overcalled 2. That means you can count on the A being onside.

So the hand would be a piece of cake -- draw trumps, pitch a heart on the long club, take the diamond finesse -- except that Lefty shows out on the first round of trumps.

Now what? You can't lead a diamond until you have pitched your heart on the 5th round of clubs. You can't run clubs until you draw 4 rounds of trump. And after you have drawn four rounds of trump and run your clubs, the only way back to your hand is to ruff a heart. That's your last trump, so when you lead a diamond, Lefty can win his ace and cash a good heart.

It seems like you are in trouble. But Lefty is too. You just have to keep track of what Lefty does.

First, let's analyze this as a squeeze-strip endplay. If you could come down to being in your hand and Lefty having two diamonds, you can take your simple finesse and make your contract. So, in essence, you can make your hand if you can trim Lefty down to your distribution. That's the first sign of a squeeze-trim-endplay. Second sign -- Lefty's diamond holding has a critical weakness, that if Lefty discards to the singleton ace of diamonds when you still have a heart control, then you can lead diamonds from either hand to set up the king. So Lefty has to save at least two diamonds until you release your heart control. That means Lefty will be squeezed out of his nontrimmable heart on the last club. Then, because you are in dummy, you can trim out the last heart.

Last three signs: You have a loser count of two, and Lefty has a control in the suit you want to win a trick in, but you have a control (your trump, after you discard a heart on the long club) in the suit you want to extract exit cards from.

The hand really plays itself. You draw four rounds of trumps and then run your clubs. With still one club to be played, the situation is this:

You throw a heart, and what does Lefty pitch? It's the same old story. If he pitches a diamond, you can attack diamonds from the dummy, ducking to the ace. If he pitches a heart, you trim out the last exit card by ruffing a heart to your hand (which you planned to do anyway if trumped had split better). Now it is safe to lead a diamond towards the king.

This hand is not a squeeze-trim-endplay, because there was no endplay at the end. But the squeeze-trim part was there, along with all the signs. On most hands, you can take your finesse earlier, so there is no need for the squeeze-trim.

This hand had the funny situation that you couldn't finesse in diamonds until you had played the clubs, and at that point you were on the board. So I suspect that "squeeze-trim-finesse" isn't needed very often.

Squeeze-Trim-Endplay Hands
Squeeze-Trim-Endplay Variations (squeeze-trim-finesse)