In a pairs game, declarer must strive for overtricks. In today’s hand, reported by Nick Hardy, South opened a weak two in spades, East protected with a slightly heavy 2N, West checked for a heart fit and subsided in 3NT. Some players will actually bid 3NT instead of 2NT because of the extra strength but the scanty spade stopper suggests the more conservative approach.
South starts with the JS and declarer runs it round to the queen. When declarer leads a small card towards the spade king, South rises and exits with another spade. Now declarer has eleven tricks and must try to make twelve. The clubs might break 3-3 but declarer must not try this now. Generally, you should leave trying for 3-3 breaks as a late option in the play. If declarer cashes the four heart winners then North is in trouble as he needs to keep QJx of diamonds and Jxxx of clubs but must come down to six cards.
Declarer will try diamonds to see if they come down and, lastly, try the clubs. If the squeeze hasn’t worked then the clubs might be 3-3 all the time. South can change all this by ducking the second spade and letting the king win. Now after two spades and four hearts, North still has seven cards and can guard both minors. Can South still get twelve tricks? After two spades and four hearts (discarding a small spade), South is known to be 64xx so cash the AD to see whether clubs are 3-3 or not since, if the clubs are 3-3, South will discard on the AD. If South follows then cash the AC to make sure diamonds are not 4-3 then play the KD and duck a diamond to North. The 9D is now set up for the twelfth trick. The vast majority of squeezes operate only when declarer has a loser count of one before the squeeze card (the last heart) is played and sometimes declarer has to lose some unwinnable tricks to rectify the loser count to being one. This squeeze works with two losers and is called a ‘squeeze without the count’.