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I am West, defending a no trump contract. (No bids by our side, no other bids than NT by the opponents.)

We're down to the last few cards, and I have two suits, call them diamonds and clubs, like this:

(d) Kx (c) Qxx

I am guarding two suits, and when South leads a third suit, e.g. a heart, I will likely be squeezed because I have two "secondary" (non top honors) that need to be protected by x cards.

If I knew that partner had e.g. Qx of diamonds, I could "transfer control." of that suit by discarding K, and then x, while protecting the club suit. If I knew partner had Jxx of clubs, I could discard my Qxx of clubs and protect diamonds.

How do I know whether (and in which suit) I can transfer control to partner in this fashion? What should I have been doing/looking for in earlier play to help make this decision?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Sufficiently advanced partnerships will have good enough signaling that you should be able to narrow down which stopper partner might have. For example:

  • Partner may give suit preference signals throughout the hand, as described in "A Switch In Time" by the Granovetters, so you should know whether partner has the missing Q.
  • Partner may give count throughout, so you should know whether partner has 3 clubs (and therefore may hold Jxx), if this is in doubt.
  • Partner may give attitude discards while declarer is playing down the squeeze suit; giving negative attitude for diamonds would eliminate the possibility they have the Q.
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To expand on Ruds answer:

You also must have been counting the hand from the moment the bidding began. Every call and play made at the table, and even more particularly every possible call and play not made, bears on situations such as these. If you are not noting these as they happen, you will never remember them well enough, or fast enough, later.

Visualize declarer's hand, and note where what play ordering choices have been made - these choices are made by good declarers in order to extract information from the defenders, but in turn can be used by defenders to infer declarer's holding.

Finally, if you are only making this decision as declarer plays the squeeze card, you are lost more often than not. Squeeze defence is most effective when recognized very early, because that is when defenders have the most options; delaying critical decisions will reduce options, often resulting in failure to recognize the last defensive chance.

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