We return to The Squeeze. Contrast these two endings (Spades are trumps): As declarer, you wish to make three more tricks in each ending, yet have just two obvious winners. It’s impossible to wring a third trick in (a). You lead your Ace of Spades, but East can discard his Club and you get nowhere.
In ending (b), however, the lead of the Ace of Spades squeezes East in Hearts and Diamonds, because he has no ‘idle card’ (this is a technical term). Go back to (a). What you needed to do earlier is lose the Club, to tighten the ending.
For most squeezes to work, you need to have precisely one fewer winner than the number of cards remaining. In (b), you have two winners and three cards remaining. Losing an early trick to reach this desired situation is known as ‘rectifying the count’.
On our first illustrative deal, as declarer, you have 11 winners and 13 cards. To bring about the desired ‘N-1’, you must lose an early trick. West led the nine of Hearts, which looks safer than leading from a Knave. Declarer won the Knave and now rectified the count by ducking a Diamond round to East’s nine. East continued with the King of Diamonds.
Winning dummy’s Ace of Diamonds, declarer now played out his three remaining Heart winners (throwing his last Diamond on dummy’s last Heart). West followed to the second round of Hearts, discarded his last Diamond on the third, but was squeezed in the black suits on the last Heart. Slam made.
If declarer hadn’t ducked a Diamond, West would have been able to discard two Diamonds on the Hearts and avoid the Squeeze.
Here is another Six Notrumps, West having opened a Weak Two. Plan the play on West’s Knave of Clubs lead.
Declarer won the Club lead with his King and counted 10 top tricks, with an 11th easily establishable in Hearts, but should he lead a low Heart to the Queen, or lead the King? The success of the slam depends upon his choice.
Declarer can’t afford the Heart trick to go, two, eight, Queen, five, for the count would not have been rectified. At trick two, declarer correctly led the King of Hearts.
West clearly had to win the Ace of Hearts or declarer would be able to generate a second Heart trick by leading towards the Queen. West continued with the ten of Clubs.
Declarer won dummy’s Queen of Clubs and cashed four rounds of Spades, discarding a Diamond from dummy, East following all the way. He then led a Heart to dummy’s Queen and watched East squirm. Whichever minor East threw gave declarer a fourth trick in the suit—slam made.