By Prof Tony Campbell

WELCOME back to the Carte Blanche Club, where anything goes.

It was supposed to be the Christmas party, always held on the last Tuesday before Christmas. But not this year. The club had been closed since March because of Covid. Many of the members had been able to play online. But they had all missed the social interaction at a real bridge table. So, the committee decided to have a zoom, where they would drink a toast to the club and reminisce about hands from year’s gone by.

They all agreed they would miss those lovely roulades made by the club’s social secretary – Sophie Cooker. The curious Professor started the conversation with, ‘Do you remember that hand at last year’s Christmas party? Florence made six hearts against Tommy Knowitall and Lucy, always unlucky.

But Florence had no idea that she had executed a double squeeze,’ he continued with a laugh. ‘Here is the hand,’ as he shared the screen with a Powerpoint he had set up for the occasion. Fragile Florence was playing with Wild Will as North/South, and Tommy Knowitall was East playing with Unlucky Lucy.

The Auction

‘Florence and Willy were playing Benjy Acol. So, with eight tricks in her hand, as she saw it, Florence opened two clubs. Willy, with twelve points, bid two no trumps showing he had some points. Florence then bid her suit, hearts. Willy as usual overbid and asked for key cards from Florence by bidding four no trumps, Roman Key Card Blackwood. Florence, with four key cards (3 aces and king of hearts), bid five clubs. Willy could hardly believe his luck and jumped in the air as he bid six hearts.’

The play

‘Tom Knowitall reasoned that Florence and Wild Willy must have all four aces, but they might be missing the king of spades. So, he led his fourth highest spade, the three. Florence had just been to the drinks table, and without realising it had dropped her ace of spades into her open handbag! Knowing that Tommy Knowitall couldn’t have led away from an ace in a slam, she played low from dummy.

Unlucky Lucy as West was very surprised when she won the trick with her nine of spades. She continued with the jack. Fragile Florence reached into her handbag for a tissue to wipe her hands after she had gorged another slice of that gorgeous chocolate roulade. ‘Oh dear,’ she exclaimed as she rescued the ace of spades back into her hand. Tommy Knowitall glared at her. He realised that she might have rectified the count by mistake in order to execute a squeeze.

Florence won with her ace, and played the ace and king of hearts, drawing all the oppositions’ trumps. She thought for a minute. It was hopeless. She could only see a total of eleven tricks. Anyway, she decided to cash some tricks. Something might happen. She entered dummy with the jack of hearts.

Tommy as East discarded a club, the two, and Unlucky Lucy as West discarded the eight of clubs. Florence then played the king of spades, discarding a diamond from her hand. She then played dummy’s king of clubs followed by the three of clubs, which she won in her hand with the ace. Still seeing no hope, Florence started to play the rest of her trumps, the hearts. At least she would be only one down.

Tommy Knowitall started to squirm. On the queen and seven of hearts he discarded the five and six of diamonds. Unlucky Lucy discarded the three and four of diamonds. Then, unknown to Fragile Florence her last trump, the five of hearts, was the coup de grace, it executed a double squeeze. Tommy had to keep the queen of spades otherwise dummy’s last spade would be a winner. He had no choice but to discard another diamond, leaving him with the bare king.

Florence had already discarded the seven of diamonds and a club from dummy, and now discarded dummy’s last spade as she knew it was a loser, leaving the ace and jack of diamonds. Lucy was unlucky again. She had to keep the queen of clubs, so she discarded another diamond leaving her queen bare. Florence still had little hope, but she played her eight of diamonds towards dummy’s ace. She jumped when the king appeared from Tommy’s hand.

Then, even more surprise, after dummy’s ace Unlucky Lucy had to play her queen. So, the jack of diamonds won the last trick, and Florence made her slam, six hearts for a score of 1430. This result stopped Tommy coming top!’

‘Tommy Knowitall sighed. Florence you do realise that when you ducked the first spade you had rectified the count? You were left then with only one loser, essential for a simple or the double squeeze to operate. Well done anyway, he said magnanimously. It is Christmas. Let me top up your champagne,’ the Professor concluded with a laugh.

What have we learnt?

1. Squeezes are fun to play. But normally you must rectify the count before you execute one. I.e. you must have only one trick to lose when you play the squeeze.

2. For a double squeeze to operate you need a threat in dummy over the player on your left, a threat in your hand over the player on your right, and a double threat against both players. Here the nine of clubs was the threat against West, the eight of spades being the threat against East. And the ace/jack of diamonds in dummy the double threat.

Club news

Peter Sampson’s ladder competition reached an exciting Christmas climax last Wednesday. In the final, Angela and Rod Hudson beat Peter Millar and Mick Green, with a large number of the ladder members watching. Congratulations. A great end to the year after much frustration at Penarth and Sully bridge Clubs. Well done Peter for setting this up. I hope to join in the New Year. Our weekly zoom bridge classes continue, triggered by an email from a regular Penarth Times reader. Let me know if you would like to join us. We meet again on Tuesday 5th January next Year.

Further information

If you have any views, hands, and information you would like to share, please email me, My articles are online at www.penarthtimes/bridge. Keep well. Keep safe. Bon chance. Virtual table up! Have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year free from Covid!