Paul Bethe

Visualization Defense

Despite not playing as much bridge as I would like to, I still seem to have an array of interesting hands rattling around upstairs.  So I will try to share them here, in case anyone is reading.

This first hand is one of my favorites, as it highlights visualization, based on listening to the auction.  I originally wrote about this one in the Daily Bulletin in Birmingham ’00.

Dealer: W

Vul: All

West East
T65 Q92
AJ865 K
T72 QJ9653
West North East South
1NT P 3C P
3NT All Pass

Imagine my surprise to hear West open 1NT (although it was 10-12), and then East bid 3, invitational.  I passed smoothly, and then had to think as partner lead the three of spades, and then dummy was tabled and quickly ducked.  Declarer must have all of the missing high-cards, except (I hope) the Jack of spades, since partner lead 4th best.  I reasoned that if I could lead hearts each time I gained the lead, I could establish the setting trick.  So I won the King, and shifted to a heart, won by declarer’s Ace, and then I lead a heart again after winning the first round of clubs.  Declarer won the Queen, and continued clubs.  I ducked one round, and won the second, partner pitching a spade and a heart.

But wait, I visualized that if I stayed on course, clearing the heart suit, declarer would run all of dummy’s clubs, and what would I keep in the three card ending.  If I stiffed the Ace of spades he could cash the King of diamonds and throw me in with a spade as a stepping-stone to the Ace of diamonds.  But if I kept two spades, he could overtake the King of diamonds, my Queen falling, and enjoy the Jack.  The worst part, is that this expert declarer could not go wrong, as on the King of diamonds, either my Queen would appear, or not, so there would be no guesswork involved.

Then (about 3 minutes later), I saw it.  The squeeze relied on overtaking in diamonds, so I switched to a diamond, relying on my placement of the Jack of spades with partner.  Now dummy would be end-played at trick 12 in spades.  At this point Declarer also saw the position, so he made an attempt to sneak one by, winning the Ace of diamonds to lead a low spade to the nine.  If I won, and did not play a diamond, dummy would be good (for the contract).

However my partner (my dad), was on top of his game and inserted the Jack of spades.  Now the Queen of spades was won by the Ace, the diamond Queen cashed to set the contract, and a diamond return, partner still scoring his Ten for down 2, as he was locked from the dummy (thanks to the Jack of spades play).


Linda LeeDecember 7th, 2009 at 8:53 pm

That is an interesting deal. Declarer is in the frustrating position of having nine tricks and not being able to cash them. The initial heart plays are needed not just to set up a potential heart winner but even more to ruin declarer’s communication. It was quite far sighted to realize that you had to return the diamond to break up the squeeze. This is definitely a form of a blocked suit squeeze but I am not sure what kind. Maybe someone else knows.

Cute squeeze and great defense.

Paul BetheDecember 8th, 2009 at 2:05 am

Thank you. I wish all hands ended in such triumph.

When we got to this board in the compare, our BAM teammates lamented missing the ‘nine trick 3N’. Grinning, I answered, you mean the one we set two tricks?

Ray LeeDecember 8th, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Welcome to the blog site, Paul — a fascinating deal for your first post!

Ross TaylorDecember 29th, 2009 at 4:40 am

very cool hand Paul – your dad would be Henry?

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