Passion of The Game of Bridge

Double Squeeze-Finesse in Sarundajang Cup

Double Squeeze-Finesse in Sarundajang Cup

Watching a beautiful play in elite tournament is what will make Bridge an interesting event to watch. Yes, not yet mainstream now, but for those who play, that’s what make them love Bridge even more. Today we see an elegant play by Indonesian national player in knockout team event that involve not only a double squeeze setup, but also the choice of correct contract. We can all learn from this small slam play.

Indonesia is one of the big name in Bridge. And this year the inauguration of “Sarundajang Cup 2015” has seen prestigious bridge player from 11 countries came to beautiful city of Manado (famous with its Bunaken reef). Sarundajang is the name of the governor in North Sulawesi and this is the Spingold version of Indonesia  not only for the amount of the prize money but also quality of the competitor.

Having qualified to knock-out phase, the hosting team Sarundajang – with the legendary pair Henky Lasut and Eddy Manoppo in action – need to win against other Indonesian state team of East Java (“PON Jatim”). In this board #24, Santje Panelewen/Mukhibban Darma Bakti – both also experienced national player – were 53 imps behind with 8 boards to go and Santje as North got this hand:

654, KJT972, A, Q96 – a 10 HCP, 6331, ~7 losers hand

With “catching up mode” active, especially after few “non-maximal” result of the last few boards, he decided to upgrade his hand and open 1 after West’s pass.
Then he heard East make a pre-emptive 3 bid.

Mukhibban as South holding this strong hand:

AKJ, AQ53, K83, K82 – a strong 20 HCP Balance hand

With combined 32 HCP between North/South (not knowing North got couples point less) and preemptive bid by East, South knew there is a danger in playing 6: either lead A then ruff or East can lead his singleton for ruff later. With this, he nicely chose 6NT as final contract even though he knows that they have at least 5-4 fit in Heart.

Bill Mondigir sits as West – also experience national player – give the best lead for defense. 10. Here is the complete hand:

Round 1 – Knockout, Session 2, Board #24
654 Dealer: W
KJT972 Vul: None
Q32 e[n/s]w T987
84 6
T4 QJ97652
AJT753 4
Pass 1 3
4 Pass 4 Pass
4 Pass 5 Pass
 6NT All Pass
opening lead:10

As you can see, 6H contract will be easily defeated with East lead singleton Club to the Ace and ruff the continuation.

As for 6NT, counting the tricks, there are only 11 tricks to collect after knocking out Ace of Club.  Trick number 12 must be taken from either Club or Spade or Diamond.
Any black suit lead will give trick no 12 immediately. Heart lead would be too passive – so Diamond lead made the best and natural lead for defender as they bid the suit.

So, after winning Ace of Diamond, declarer play 2 rounds of Heart where East discard small Diamond following the 2nd trick of Heart.

While there is an easy choice to get the 12th tricks by finessing the Spade (of course, losing one) – most of us will just simply do this and 50% of the time may work – but player at this level knows that there is better chance by setting the squeeze: either squeezing East in Diamond and Club (-or- Diamond and Spade)  or squeezing West in Club and Spade. (Declarer doesn’t know which one is the correct one at this point). So, he play Q of Club to “rectify the count” (i.e: give up the losing trick). West made a brief pause before ducked the Club.

Then declarer continue cashing in Heart until reach this position with 5 cards on each hand: (Both defenders were doing a good job by not ditching any Spade that gave Declarer more clue)

65 Dealer: W
J Vul: None
Q32 e[n/s]w T987

At this point, declarer knows that there is only 1 Diamond card outside his hand, all 12 cards of Spade is still in play (one in dummy thrown on K of Diamond)  and AJ of Club .  Distribution-wise, East is known to have 1 Diamond, and at least 3 card Spade (East could also have 1 more Club, though).

When J of Heart was played from North, East did not threw the Diamond J, so declarer ditch Diamond 8 followed by a Spade from West. If Diamond was thrown, then 8 of D at declarer hands will be the 12th tricks. And if West ditch a Club, declarer just need to throw in West with C that giving declarer free finesse of Spade to AKJ-fork.

This means, AJ of club is still in play, so King of Club will not be the trick. Now focus to Spade: With a pause from West when playing Q of Club, declarer knows that W held AJ of club – so now West exactly have 2 cards S and East has 3 cards (in which the Queen still can be in either hand)

And now then the decision time: finesse or not finesse? (remember, East could have QT9 and West just 83) – This is the time when non-technical factor could be in play. Some people call it luck. But knowing the person could help. Could Tommy (East) – who also experience national player – did pre-emptive with only 3 points before?

Declarer chose for a drop and win 11 imps for this board. Unfortunately not enough to win against the host team….

Lessons to take

  • If possible, we should leave the decision to do simple finesse until the last moment.
    In this board, the expert has used squeeze and throw in threat before need to decide whether to finesse or not giving maximum chance.
  • Having good fit in a suit, like 5-4 or even 6-4 in this case is not necessarily the best contract to play in that suit.
  • The opening lead from a defender playing a big role. In this board if defender lead any of the black suit, it will be much more easier to play for declarer.
  • Indication is just that: an indication. In this case, as East is the one bidding the pre-emptive, we then incline to indicate that Q of spade was with East – but the actual location is still 50-50 chance.

Any other lesson to take ? Write your comment down !
Happy Bridging, everyone!!


One comment

  1. nick /

    Don’t like CQ at trick 2. This would fail if East had C-Txx.
    West wins CA and returns CJ for no squeeze.
    Better is to cross to hand to lead a club up. Basically catching West in a 3-card ending.
    Alternatively, play club to king at trick 2. Unclear if East has 3 clubs but better than declarer’s actual since avoids a later spade guess.

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