Simple Squeezes

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Structure

The simple squeeze is characterized by two conditions:

Aside from some rare possibilities involving blocked suits, the simple squeeze occurs when the last free winner, called the squeeze card, is cashed (a free winner is either (i) a winner in a suit which is neither trumps nor a threat suit or (ii) a trump winner which is not needed for a subsequent ruff). (Exceptionally, a squeeze may also occur when a free loser is played.)

[Aside for the mathematically minded: To see why this is so, suppose a player comes under pressure when forced to discard from a holding of p cards in one suit and q cards in another suit, and is forced to concede the remaining tricks no matter which choice of discard is made. Suppose the victim discards from the p-card suit. Then in order to make an extra trick in that suit without losing any tricks, the squeezer must be able to win the first p-1 rounds of the suit (by cashing winners, or by ruffing losers, or by a combination of the two). Similarly the squeezer must be able to win the first q-1 rounds of the other suit. Then if f is the number of free winners held by the squeezer immediately before the squeeze, the squeezer will hold a total of (p-1) + (q-1) + f winners before the squeeze takes place. If f=2, then this total is p+q, which is the number of tricks remaining (since the victim holds exactly p+q cards); in other words, the rest of the tricks are there on top, without any squeeze. So either f=1 and the squeeze occurs when the squeezer cashes the last free winner, or f=0 and the position involves a losing squeeze card.]

Classification

The classification of simple squeezes depends on (i) the location of the menaces, and (ii) the means of access to the menaces.

The only simple squeeze in which both menaces lie in the same hand is the positional simple squeeze. (However, there is one anomalous double squeeze position which could be considered an unusual type of simple ruffing squeeze in which two ruffing menaces lie in the same hand.)

In all other cases, the menaces are split between the two hands; to avoid clumsy circumlocutions, I propose to call the menace lying in the same hand as the squeeze card the near menace, and the menace lying opposite the squeeze card the far menace. Clearly, there must be an entry to the far menace.

In the automatic simple squeeze, there is an entry to the far menace in the suit of the far menace itself. This is easily the commonest of all squeeze positions.

In other cases, the necessary entry to the far menace lies in the other threat suit (either a winner in that suit or a ruff of that suit). Then there must also be a means of re-entry to the near menace.

If this re-entry lies in the suit of the near menace itself, four possibilities arise:
  1. the twin-entry simple squeeze, in which the near menace is the equivalent of Kxx opposite Ax
  2. the split positional simple squeeze, in which the near menace is the equivalent of Qx opposite Ax
  3. the blocked simple squeeze, in which the near menace is the equivalent of Ax opposite K
  4. the jettison simple squeeze, in which the lower menace is the equivalent of Kx opposite A

The final possibility is for the re-entry to the near menace to be a winner or a ruff in the suit of the far menace. This produces the criss-cross family, which also includes four possibilities:

  1. the criss-cross simple squeeze, in which entry to each menace is provided by a winner in the other menace
  2. the ruffing simple squeeze, which is a criss-cross squeeze with the winner in one menace replaced by a trump
  3. the cross-ruffing simple squeeze, which is a criss-cross squeeze with winners in both menaces replaced by trumps
  4. the see-saw ruffing simple squeeze, a two-way ruffing squeeze in which a missing entry is replaced by a special overtaking maneuver in the trump suit

Discussion

In practice, these forms frequently overlap. As an extreme illustration, consider the following deal:

 

spade symbol J 10 9 8 2
heart symbol K J
diamond symbol 10 5 3
club symbol K 9 4

 

spade symbol 5
heart symbol 6 5 4 3
diamond symbol A K Q 7 6
club symbol 8 7 2

 

spade symbol A 3
heart symbol Q 10 7 2
diamond symbol J 9 8
club symbol Q J 6 5

 

spade symbol K Q 7 6 4
heart symbol A 9 8
diamond symbol 4 2
club symbol A 10 3

 

Perfect defense will hold South to 9 tricks in a spade contract, but suppose West starts with three rounds of diamonds, South ruffing, and then East wins the first round of spades and returns another spade. Then South can play down to any one of 5 squeeze endings (the play to reach some of the endings is fairly peculiar, but that is not the point):

Position after 5 tricks:

 

spade symbol J 10 9
heart symbol K J
diamond symbol --
club symbol K 9 4

 

spade symbol --
heart symbol 6 5 4 3
diamond symbol 7
club symbol 8 7 2

 

spade symbol --
heart symbol Q 10 7 2
diamond symbol --
club symbol Q J 6 5

 

spade symbol 7 6
heart symbol A 9 8
diamond symbol --
club symbol A 10 3

 

Positional:

 

spade symbol J
heart symbol J
diamond symbol --
club symbol 4

 

spade symbol --
heart symbol 6 5
diamond symbol --
club symbol 8

 

spade symbol --
heart symbol Q 10
diamond symbol --
club symbol Q

 

spade symbol --
heart symbol A 9
diamond symbol --
club symbol 10

 

Automatic:

 

spade symbol J
heart symbol J
diamond symbol --
club symbol 9

 

spade symbol --
heart symbol 6 5
diamond symbol --
club symbol 8

 

spade symbol --
heart symbol Q 10
diamond symbol --
club symbol Q

 

spade symbol --
heart symbol A 9
diamond symbol --
club symbol 3

 

Twin-entry (South pitches club 10):

 

spade symbol J
heart symbol -
diamond symbol --
club symbol K 9 4

 

spade symbol --
heart symbol 6 5 4 3
diamond symbol 7
club symbol 8 7 2

 

spade symbol --
heart symbol 10
diamond symbol --
club symbol Q J 6

 

spade symbol --
heart symbol 9
diamond symbol --
club symbol A 10 3

 

Split positional:

 

spade symbol J
heart symbol --
diamond symbol --
club symbol 9 4

 

spade symbol --
heart symbol 6
diamond symbol --
club symbol 8 7

 

spade symbol --
heart symbol 10
diamond symbol --
club symbol Q J

 

spade symbol --
heart symbol 9
diamond symbol --
club symbol A 3

 

Criss-cross (South pitches club 3):

 

spade symbol J
heart symbol K
diamond symbol --
club symbol 9 4

 

spade symbol --
heart symbol 6 5
diamond symbol --
club symbol 8 7

 

spade symbol --
heart symbol 10 7
diamond symbol --
club symbol Q J

 

spade symbol --
heart symbol 9 8
diamond symbol --
club symbol A 3