A Declarer Squeeze 

When you are the declarer, you can usually dictate the sequence of plays, and if you get a chance to squeeze one of the opponents, you're probably going to get an extra trick. This is a good thing, but you have to make sure that you are not the one being squeezed. I played this hand recently and did not see the consequence of my play soon enough, so I squeezed myself.

The defender on my left led the heart nine to my contract of three notrump, giving me an extra trick and probably locating the heart ace to my left. I had trouble figuring out how to develop and cash nine tricks though, because getting to my hand more than once was no cinch, so I thought I would try to set up dummy. I counted four diamond tricks if they split 4-3, two hearts and two spades. I had to develop a club trick to make my contract, but first I had to get the diamonds going. When I led the jack, it was covered with the king. If I had ducked this trick--that is, if I had let the opponent take the trick with his king--I probably would have been in good shape. I would've had no problem getting to the board and cashing four tricks and had time to work on clubs and heart. However, I chose to take the trick and lead spades twice, both times ducked by the defender. Now I cashed diamonds, having to give up the fourth trick to establish the fifth, and in the process, found my own hand uncomfortable to discard from. I had to choose to shorten myself in either clubs or hearts. When the left hand defender got in with the ace of hearts, he was able to isolate me in my hand with a club lead, and I had to surrender a club. This was the fifth loser, so I was down in a good contract.

I was reminded of the old saying that the good player (in the notrump) loses four tricks early, and the bad one loses five tricks late.

We are planning some novice player events for the club. We will have a tournament in which only new players are allowed to compete and earn prizes and masterpoints, so if you have been thinking about learning to play bridge or getting into the fun world of duplicate, you should contact us at the club by calling 327-0166.

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