Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson
There is always a special satisfaction in bidding and making a slam at bridge, especially if you have to play extra carefully to bring it home. Lorne Hamblin and John Wells managed to do just that in the illustrated deal when playing at the Lake Chapala Duplicate Bridge Club against Herself and Yours Truly.
Sitting East I needed very little time to judge the value of my hand – zero high card points added up to a stress-free pass. In second seat Lorne opened the proceedings with his 8-card suit by bidding 1 spade. Sitting West and holding a good six card suit and 16 high card points, Herself entered the fray with a bid of 2 hearts.
John, sitting North, now bid 3 spades which in their methods showed a limit raise or better and that was all Lorne needed to launch into Blackwood and ask for aces. When John showed one ace, Lorne gambled that there would be some other good cards in John’s hand and boldly bid 6 spades.
Herself led the heart ace and when dummy produced the jack I followed with the 9, a discouraging card in our system. When South played the queen it confirmed that continuing with the heart king would be far too dangerous, so Herself switched to the club king. When he won the club ace Lorne took stock of the situation and it looked like there were only 11 tricks available: 8 spades, 2 diamonds and one club.
However, funny things can happen at bridge when you have a very long suit to run, so Lorne proceeded to do just that. He pulled the outstanding trumps in just two rounds but then continued with a barrage of spades, watching carefully what Herself discarded. She was not pressured until Lorne played his last trump but at this point she had to surrender as all she had left in her hand were the heart king and the queen, jack, nine of diamonds, while dummy had come down to the heart jack and the king, ten, seven of diamonds. As Herself had to discard before the dummy, she was well and truly squeezed. When she threw the diamond 9, Lorne judged well to discard the heart jack and so he took the last three tricks with the ace, king and 10 of diamonds, mission accomplished! Lorne and John were one of only three pairs (out of 18) to bid and make slam on those cards that day.
Newer players are often perplexed by the term “squeeze”, feeling that it is a technique understood and used only by the top experts but many of the positions are straightforward once the basic principles are understood. Wikipedia defines a squeeze as: “a tactic in which the play of a card forces an opponent to discard a winner or the guard of a potential winner. Most squeezes operate on the principle that declarer’s and dummy’s hands can, between them, hold more cards with the potential to take extra tricks than a single defender’s hand can protect or guard.”
And that is precisely what Lorne did on this hand to land his slam, so congratulations are definitely in order.