A Progressive Squeeze

A Progressive Squeeze, True — But Not at His Own Table

Having told his left-hand opponent how he should have played the previous hand and his partner how he should have bid the one before, Charlie the Chimp had a moment or two to spare. Before picking up his hand, his restless eyes wandered around the room.
“You’ve dropped a card,” he told the Rueful Rabbit who was dealing at the next table. The Rabbit thanked him, picked up the 10 from the floor and sorted his hand.

Dlr: South ♠ 7 6 4
Vul: N-S A 5
7 6 5 3
♣ K Q 5 4
♠ A J 9
K 8 2
A 10 9 8
♣ A 7 3 2
Hideous Hog
Rueful Rabbit
Secretary Bird
Timothy the Toucan
1NT* Pass 2NT
Pass 3NT All Pass

The Rabbit nearly passed 2NT, but that 10 gave him just a fraction above the minimum and his horoscope for the day said directly, “Be bold and resolute. Enterprise will be rewarded.” So he decided to stretch a little.
The Hideous Hog and the Secretary Bird, sitting East-West, took no part in the auction. S.B’s lead was the K.
Surveying his prospects, the Rabbit optimistically counted eight tricks — a spade, two hearts, a second diamond and four clubs. Fortunately after the lead, he could set up a second diamond for his ninth trick. So, going in with the A, he promptly returned the 8.
The Emeritus Professor won with the Q and continued with the J, the Hog shedding the    ♠ 2 3. At trick four, S.B. played the 10 — and so did R.R., the two 10s colliding in the center of the table, neither prepared to give way.
“En carte,” called a junior kibitzer who had graduated from watching baccarat.
Timothy the Toucan bounced giddily in his chair. “What’s the rule?” he asked. “The two tens are equals, so who takes the trick?”
Oscar the Owl, our senior kibitzer, shook his head gravely. “No,” he said, “the red 10 is more equal than the blue, the card from the right pack taking precedence. Promus inter pares.
S.B. turned over the cards, his 10 was from the red pack, with which they were playing. The Rabbit’s 10 was from the blue pack.
“That’s the card I picked up from the floor,” cried R.R., “and without that extra half-point I would have passed 2NT. Besides, I wouldn’t have played that way, I mean . . . ”
“Quite irrelevant,” hissed the Secretary Bird, “so kindly replace that card in the blue pack and substitute a card of the proper color.” As he spoke, S.B. waived a fifth diamond triumphantly in mid air. This was the full deal:

Dlr: South ♠ 7 6 4
Vul: N-S A 5
7 6 5 3
♣ K Q 5 4
♠ 10 8 5 ♠ K Q 3 2
7 6 4 3 Q J 10 9
K Q J 10 2 4
♣ 9 ♣ J 10 8 6
♠ A J 9
K 8 2
A 10 9 8
♣ A 7 3 2

The Hog, who had been strangely quiescent, raised a fat forefinger. Putting on his most ingratiating manner, he said in a silky voice” “I don’t think, Professor, that we should take advantage of an, er, overdeal so to speak, Let’s wash the hand out. With a bare 16 points, R.R. wouldn’t have bid again, as he has just told us so. . .”
There was a dangerous gleam behind S.B’s pince-nez. “Whose side are you on, ours or theirs?” he asked angrily, the tufts of his wiry hair over his ears bristling belligerently. “If R.R. overvalued his 14th card, misappropriating half a point that didn’t belong to him is that any reason for presenting him with a bonus? Pray play to the next trick.”
The Hog who had parted with the 9 on the fourth diamond, now came under heavy pressure. Hoping that S.B. had the 8, he let go of the 10. R.R discarded a spade and a club.
Having four tricks stacked neatly in front of him, the Secretary Bird shifted to a heart. The Rabbit won in dummy and started to cash his clubs. Then, when S.B. threw a heart on the second round, he shook his head ruefully. A moment earlier he could see nine tricks and now they shrunk to seven. Maybe if he contrived to throw someone in with something, he could save a trick. Looking for the right exit card, he came back to his hand with a heart, this being the five-card end position:

Dlr: South ♠ 7 6 4
Vul: N-S 5
♣ Q 5
♠ 10 8 5 ♠ K Q
6 4 Q
♣ — ♣ J 10
♠ A J
K 8
♣ 7

When the Hog produced the Q, R.R. looked at him suspiciously. The Rabbit remembered seeing the J 10, but where was the 9? It was just like H.H. to display flamboyantly the Q-J-10 and keep the 9 hidden. And yet, although R.R. couldn’t be sure, there was at least a chance that the 8 was good, but no chance at all that the ♠J or dummy’s last club could take the trick. Hopefully, R.R. tested the 8, squeezing the Hog, without malice aforethought, in the black suits.
The Toucan was shocked to see the Hog throw a club. “Only goes to show,” he said afterwards, “that even the best players make mistakes. I suppose H.H. miscounted dummy’s clubs. It’s an easy thing to do.”
The Hog snarled, “I congratulate you,” he called to the Chimp at the next table. “For the first time in your life you’ve brought off a progressive squeeze — not at your own table, of course, but it’s as near as you are ever likely to get to one.”