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Declarer Play The Bergen Way


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Chapter 15 :Donít Rely on Good Splits ........................... 159


Chapter 16

Life is Pleasing When You Start Squeezing

© 2004 - Marty Bergen

Page 171
Life is Pleasing When You Start Squeezing

Not For Experts Only

"A well-played bridge hand has as much power to thrill and to satisfy as a Beethoven symphony."

Hugh Kelsey, prolific Scottish bridge writer

For many players, the most fascinating and exciting of the so-called advanced plays is the squeeze. Iíll never forget one of my favorite memories as a teacher. It occurred many years ago when my phone rang around 12:30 a.m. To my great surprise, it was one of my students.

"I hope Iím not waking you, Marty, but I just had to call," she said.

"No problem, Kitty. Are you okay?" I replied.

"Oh yes, Iím wonderful," she said. "I was playing bridge this evening, and I just executed my first squeeze. I havenít been so excited since the birth of my first child!"

Unfortunately, the topic of squeezes has acquired an unwarranted mystique and is regarded as being too difficult for the average player. There are some very complex squeezes, including ones in which both defenders are squeezed, but the truth is that the basic squeeze can be executed by anyone. The best way to approach this topic is with questions and answers. Here we go:

© 2004 - Marty Bergen

Page 172
Life is Pleasing When You Start Squeezing

1. When should a squeeze be attempted?

When there is no other way to get rid of a loser. The outlook is bleak, so you have nothing to lose by attempting a squeeze.

Opportunities for squeezes occur quite often. Suit contracts and notrump are both fair game. You should try for a squeeze whether the hoped-for extra trick fulfills the contract or produces an overtrick.

2. What do you need to do?

Take all your winners in the irrelevant suits, and hope. Thatís basically it!

3. How do you distinguish between the relevant suit and the irrelevant one(s)?

The irrelevant suits are those in which declarer has no chance of creating an extra winner. One example is a suit where the enemy has become void, such as trumps. Another example is a suit such as A2 opposite dummyís K3. If either of you held a third card, such as A2 opposite K43, it would become a relevant suit. If neither opponent kept three (or more) cards in that suit, you would be able to win a third trick.

The extra card is called a threat card (or menace) because its very existence threatens the opposition. One opponent must keep three cards in that suit to prevent your third card from becoming a winner.

© 2004 - Marty Bergen

Page 173
Life is Pleasing When You Start Squeezing

4. What else must declarer do?

A. Keep the lines of communication open between his hand and the dummy. It does not help you if an opponentís discard establishes a winner that you canít get to.

B. Keep an eye on the opponentsí discards. Fortunately, on most basic squeezes, you only need to keep track of what is being discarded in the relevant suit(s).

5. What are you hoping for?

If one (or both) defenders threw away the wrong cards, it would not bother you at all. Discarding is often difficult, tedious, and annoying. The more discards you squeeze out of your opponents, the greater the chance for a mistake. If you make the hand because of a discarding error, it is referred to as a pseudo-squeeze.

However, you donít need to depend on an enemy error to gain a trick when you attempt a squeeze. When you cash your last winner in the irrelevant suit(s), you are hoping that one opponent has two suits to guard. He will then be forced to discard a winner from one of the relevant suits. These are legitimate squeezes and can operate even against perfect defense.

© 2004 - Marty Bergen

Page 174
Life is Pleasing When You Start Squeezing

6. How often do squeezes occur?

More often than you think. I canít tell you how many times I have been aware of an upcoming squeeze while watching as dummy Ė if only declarer would cash his last winner.

In addition, the potential for a pseudo-squeeze occurs on every deal. You should not get into the habit of saying: "Iíll give you a trick." Instead, play out the hand and give your opponents a chance to make the wrong discard.

It is even possible for the defending side to execute a squeeze on declarer or dummy. There are also occasions when one defender squeezes his partner. By the way, squeezing your partner is definitely frowned upon Ė at least at the bridge table.

7. What else should you know in order to execute a squeeze?

Squeezes function most efficiently when declarer has already lost all of the losers he can afford to lose. So, in order to set up a squeeze, on some hands, declarer should make sure to "lose his losers early." When youíre discussing squeezes, this technique is referred to as rectifying the count.

© 2004 - Marty Bergen

Page 175
Life is Pleasing When You Start Squeezing

8. Last but not least. Remember:

  • Deciding what to discard is not easy. Get into the habit of making the enemy sweat.

  • Bridge is not like pinochle; you donít receive a bonus for winning the last trick. Therefore, instead of holding onto a winner Ė cash it.

  • Never give up. Even if you have a sure loser, give yourself a chance to avoid it.

Are you ready to start squeezing?

Great!  We invite you to read all of Marty's excellent book!
Here's how to order Declarer Play the Bergen Way

© 2004 - Marty Bergen

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