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On Guard

Dlr:
North
Vul:
N-S
North
♠ A K
A 4 2
A 9 5
♣ A 9 8 6 2
South
♠ 10 6 4
K Q J 9 3
J 6
♣ K 7 4
West Dorothy East Alan
1♣/td> Pass 1
2♠ Pass 3♠ Pass
Pass 4♠ Pass 6
All Pass

Alan Truscott, bridge editor of The New York Times, is also a fine player. In 1991, he and wife Dorothy traveled to Prague, Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia in those days), for an invitational tournament. Truscott showed his skill on this deal against Hungary.

Dorothy’s 1♣ was strong, artificial and forcing. Alan’s leap to 6 was a bit of an overbid, but he justified the optimism by bringing the contract home.

West led the K, ducked by Truscott. West could have defeated the contract by switching to his singleton club (you will see why later), but he got out with a spade. Truscott took the two spade winners in dummy, crossed to the K and ruffed the ♠10 with the A. He resisted the temptation to finesse the ♥9, playing West for a singleton, and drew trumps normally. The fourth round of trumps left this ending:

Dlr:
West
Vul:
Both
North
♠ —
A 9
♣ A 9 8
West
♠ J 9
Q 4
♣ 5
East
♠ —
10 8
♣ Q J 10
South
♠ —
3
J
♣ K 7 4

A club was thrown from dummy on the last trump, catching East in what is known as a “guard squeeze.” He cannot discard a club because all of Truscott’s clubs would then be good, so East had to part with a diamond. The lead of the J then smothered East’s now-singleton 10, setting up the 9 for the 12th trick.

If West had continued with the Q at trick two, East would have been exposed to a simple minor-suit squeeze in the ending.

West could have assured defeat of the slam, however, by shifting to his singleton club at trick two, ruining the squeeze by interrupting communication between the two hands.

The full deal:

Dlr:
West
Vul:
Both
North
♠ A K
A 4 2
A 9 5
♣ A 9 8 6 2
West
♠ J 9 8 5 3 2
10 6
K Q 4 2
♣ 5
East
♠ Q 7
8 7 5
10 8 7 3
♣ Q J 10 3
South
♠ 10 6 4
K Q J 9 3
J 6
♣ K 7 4