Squeeze play (bridge)
A squeeze play (or squeeze) is a type of play late in the hand of contract bridge and other trick-taking game in which the play of a card (the squeeze card) forces an opponent to discard a card that gives up one or more tricks. The discarded card may be either a winner or a card needed to protect a winner. Although numerous types of squeezes have been analyzed and catalogued in contract bridge, they were first discovered and described in whist.
Most squeezes operate on the principle that declarer's hand and dummy's hand can together hold more cards with the potential to take extra tricks than defenders' hands can protect (or cover). Less frequently, two defenders can cooperate to squeeze declarer or dummy on the same principle.
Squeeze play description depends upon the following terms:
- Busy card(s) - card(s) held by defenders which are winners or protecting winners
- Count - knowing the cards held by the opponents; sometimes requires knowledge gained from the bidding and prior play of which cards in each suit is held by each defender
- Count is rectified - being at the point in play where the declarer has lost all the tricks he plans to lose
- Entry or communication - the ability of declarer to get between his hand and dummy (or the reverse)
- Idle card(s) - card(s) that can safely be discarded by defenders
- Menace or threat card(s) - card(s) held by declarer or dummy which is a loser but which can become a winner when the squeeze is operated
- Squeezee (slang) - the defender(s) obligated to discard a card which is a winner or protects a winner
- Squeeze card - the card which when lead forces the defender(s) to discard a busy card
Most common types of squeezes require all the following conditions to prevail in order for the squeeze to operate:
- Declarer (together with dummy) has enough winners to take all the remaining tricks except for the extra trick(s) that will be gained from the squeeze. In other words, declarer has already lost all the tricks he plans to lose and the count is said to be rectified.
- In at least two suits, declarer and dummy have threat cards or menaces that are not immediate winners, but threaten to become winners;
- At least one of the menaces is positioned after a squeezed defender (squeezee).
- The declarer has sufficient entries (winners serving as communication between his hand and dummy) to cash the menaces if they develop into winners.
- The squeezed defender(s) must hold only busy cards that are covering a menace, with no idle cards that can safely be discarded.
These concepts are illustrated in Example 1:
Example 1 ♠ A J ♥ K ♦ — ♣ — ♠ K Q
♥ A ♦ — ♣ — South to lead ♠ 4 ♥ 2 ♦ — ♣ A
South needs all three remaining tricks in a notrump contract. He leads the ♣A, and West is squeezed in hearts and spades. If West discards the ♥A, North's ♥K becomes a winner. If he discards either spade, North's ♠J becomes a winner.
Note the following features of this position:
- The count is rectified. Three cards remain, and declarer has two immediate winners (the ♣A and ♠A) plus one winner that will be established by the squeeze (either the ♥K or the ♠J).
- The ♥K and the ♠J are the menaces.
- Both menaces are positioned after the squeezee (West).
- The ♠A is an entry to the promoted menace card.
- West has no idle cards.
This is a positional squeeze, because if West's cards are transferred to East, the squeeze fails. Now one of the menaces must be discarded before it is East's turn to play. If the ♥K is discarded, East can safely discard the ♥A. If the ♠J is discarded, East can safely discard a spade.
Squeezes often require declarer to know the location of specific high cards or the number of cards a defender holds in a particular suit, in order to know what cards the squeezee will be forced to play. Examples 2a and 2b illustrates:
Example 2a ♠ A J ♥ K ♦ 2 ♣ — ♠ K Q
♠ 3 2 ♥ A ♥ — ♦ 7 ♦ Q ♣ — ♣ 8 South to lead ♠ 4 ♥ 2 ♦ 3 ♣ A Example 2b ♠ A J ♥ K ♦ 2 ♣ — ♠ K Q
♠ — ♥ A ♥ — ♦ 7 ♦ Q ♣ — ♣ 3 2 8 South to lead ♠ 4 ♥ 2 ♦ 3 ♣ A
Again South needs three of the remaining tricks in a notrump contract. In Example 2a the presence of the diamond loser means that when South cashes the ♣A, West is not squeezed. He can safely discard his idle ♦7. However, when South next plays the ♦3, West is squeezed again. East wins the ♦Q, but must lead to dummy's winners.
In Example 2b East's ♠3 2 are replaced by the ♣3 2 and declarer must know East's club length in order to make the correct play. If South cashes the ♣A and then leads the ♦3, East wins the ♦Q and will take the rest of the tricks. In this case, the correct play is for South to lose the ♦Q immediately, before taking the ♣A, in order to rectify the count. Now East is forced to lead a club to South's ace, and West is squeezed as before.
But with East's hand as shown in Example 2a, losing the ♦Q first does not work. East can return a spade, and declarer will score only the ♠A. Not only does the squeeze position disappear, but there is no entry to cash the ♣A.
There are several ways to classify squeezes:
- According to which opponent can be squeezed:
- In a positional squeeze, only one opponent can be squeezed.
- In an automatic squeeze, either opponent can be squeezed.
- According to number of opponents squeezed:
- In a single squeeze, only one opponent is squeezed.
- In a double squeeze, both opponents are squeezed.
- According to number of suits involved:
- In a two-suit squeeze, there are menaces in two suits.
- In a three-suit squeeze, there are menaces in three suits.
- In a compound squeeze, there are menaces in three suits (against one); then, menaces in three suits (against both opponents). It could be named a six-suit squeeze.
- The peculiar and rare single-suit squeeze is actually a type of endplay rather than a real squeeze.
- According to what is gained:
- In a material squeeze, the opponents are forced to give up a trick directly.
- In a non-material squeeze, the opponents are forced to give up strategic position. For example, an opponent can be squeezed out of an exit card or a card that disturbs declarer's entries. An extra trick, however, may materialize later.
- According to the count rectification:
- In a squeeze with the count, the count is rectified before the squeeze card is played, and declarer will lose no more tricks. These are typically material squeezes.
- In a squeeze without the count, the count is not yet rectified. These are typically non-material squeezes, often with a throw-in in the end position.
Most of the common types of squeezes (and some of the rare ones) have names:
Type of Squeeze Positional or
Opponents Suits Material or
Simple squeeze Either Single 2 Yes Yes Criss-cross squeeze Automatic Single 2 Yes Yes Trump squeeze Either Single 2 Yes Yes Progressive squeeze
(aka Triple squeeze)
Positional Single 3 Yes Yes Double squeeze Either Double 3 Yes Yes Compound squeeze Positional Double 3 Yes Yes Entry-shifting squeeze Positional Single 2 Yes Yes Single-suit squeeze Positional Single 1 Yes No Strip squeeze Positional Single 2-3 Yes No Backwash squeeze Positional Single 2 Yes Yes Cannibal squeeze Positional Single 2 Yes Yes* Stepping-stone squeeze Positional Either 2 No No Guard squeeze Positional Either 2-3 Yes Yes Vice squeeze Positional Single 2-3 Yes No Winkle squeeze Positional Single 3 No No Clash squeeze Positional Either 3 Yes Yes Saturated squeeze Positional Double 4 Yes Yes Pseudo-squeeze N/A N/A N/A No N/A Entry squeeze Either Either 3 No No Knockout squeeze Either Single 3 No No
- Bridge Squeezes Complete by Clyde E. Love
- ^ Clyde Love in Bridge squeezes complete proposes the term quintuple squeeze as it is a triple squeeze followed by a double squeeze
- Bird, David; Smith, Marc (2001). Squeezes Made Simple. Toronto: Master Point Press. pp. 61. ISBN 978-1-894154-32-1. OCLC 46620681.
- Bird, David (2002). Bridge Squeezes for Everyone. Toronto: Master Point Press. pp. 221. ISBN 978-1-894154-42-0. OCLC 48533829.
- Coffin, George. Endplays in Bridge: Eliminations, Squeezes and Coups. LCCN 81069898.
- Eng, Fook H. (1973). Bridge Squeezes Illustrated. Los Angeles: Eng. pp. 185. OCLC 2556958.
- Freehill, H.G. (1949). The Squeeze at Bridge. London: Faber and Faber. pp. 126. OCLC 2813446.
- Kelsey, Hugh (1985). Simple Squeezes. Victor Gollancz Ltd. in association with Peter Crawley (London), 120p. ISBN 0-575-03607-9.
- Laderman, Julian (2007). A Bridge to Simple Squeezes (2nd ed.). Toronto: Master Point Press. pp. 151. ISBN 978-1-897106-26-6. OCLC 154712413.
- Love, Clyde E. (1951). Squeeze Play in Bridge. New York: Richard R. Smith Publisher Inc. pp. 183. OCLC 2556862.
- Love, Clyde E. (1959). Bridge Squeezes Complete or Winning End Play Strategy (1st ed.). Long Island, NY: Barclay Bridge Supplies, Sterling Publishing Company Inc. pp. 260. LCCN 59014249.
- Love, Clyde E. (2010). Lee, Linda; Pottage, Julian. eds. Bridge Squeezes Complete: Winning Endgame Strategy (Revised ed.). Toronto: Master Point Press. pp. 384. ISBN 978-1-897106-58-7.
- Moon, Anthony (2010). Simple Squeezes (2nd ed.). Pressure Point Press. ISBN 978-0-9561532-5-8.
- Ottlik, Géza; Kelsey, Hugh (1979). Adventures in Card Play. Victor Gallancz Ltd. in association with Peter Crawley / 7th Impression: Cassell (London), 2005, 285p. ISBN 0-304-36807-5.
- Reese, Terence; Jourdain, Patrick (1980). Squeeze Play is Easy. George Allen & Unwin LTD (London), 145 pages, ISBN 0-04-793047-0 / Squeeze Play Made Easy', Sterling Publishing Co. Inc., (New York), 145 pages, ISBN 0-8069-4940-6.
- Terence Reese, Master Play in Contract Bridge
- Frank Schuld, The Simple Squeeze in Bridge - New and Revised
- Norman Squire, Contract Bridge, Squeeze Play Simplified
- Peter Thoma, The Art of Bridge Squeezes
- Wang, Chien-Hwa (1993). The Squeeze at Bridge. Cadogan bridge series. London: Cadogan Books. pp. 203. ISBN 1-85744-507-4. LCCN 93007343.
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