Simple squeeze in 2 suits

Unlike the bridge game, the tarot does not make possible for the declarer to intentionnaly squeeze an opponent, for the simple reason that he plays only one hand whereas at bridge the declarer plays its hand and the dummy's hand. The squeeze requires at least a communication between two hands to be makable. In a tarot game, a declarer must obtain the unintentionnal help of one of the defenders to make a squeeze. On the other hand, it's possible that 2 defenders squeeze the declarer intentionnaly but honestly, I had not witnessed such coup in several years of play.

The following deal illustrates an involuntary squeeze of a defender by his partner. This variant, which we could name suicide-squeeze, is the most likely to occur in a game of tarot. For the anecdote, I specify that the deal is authentic, that I was the unhappy WEST and that I was so excited to witness my first tarot's squeeze that I forced everyone to put cards on table at 3 cards of the end, to be sure that the declarer discards correctly and that the squeeze succeeds  !

Demenagement Constantineau

Tarot at 3 players
South dealer and declarer (garde)

DOG: tarot: 5-3, spade: 6-2, diamond: K-4

Distribution of the 3 hands
tarot 18-17-13-12-8
Sp K-Q-C-9-4
He K-Q-3
Di Q-C-10-7-5-1
Cl 9-7-5-4-2
  tarot 16-15-14-11-7-6-4-2
Sp 7
He C-10-9-8-5-4-1
Di 8-3
Cl K-C-J-8-6-3
  tarot Ex-21-20-19-10-9-5-3-1
Sp J-10-8-6-5-3-2-1
He -
Di K-J-9-6-4-2
Cl 10

DISCARD: Heart: J-7-6-2, Club: Q-1

The play of the hand:

Trick 1 to 3
1 17 Ex .2
2 .8 10 12
3 18 19 .4

The opening trump lead by EAST is not a hunt for the Petit but an anticipation of a strong holding in declarer's suits. This anticipation is inspired by the configutation of the 4 suits in the EAST's hand. Bad breaks generally meaning a strong holding in the declarer's suits, the trump lead is thus logical.

Demenagement Constantineau
Trick 4 to 7
4 2Club .10Club CClub
5 12 21 .6
6 KSpade .10Spade 7Spade
7 .13 20 7

The declarer smokes out (bluff) at trick 4 with the 10club (he should have kept the ace to do it because his 10 force an honor), losing a tempo which could prevent him to set up the spade. WEST follows the plan of play of EAST at trick 7, especially when the declarer switches to spade, a suit where he has a good holding.

Trick 8 to 11
8 4Spade .2Spade 14
9 5Club 3 .15
10 KHeart 5 .16
11 QHeart 9 .8Heart

East forgets to cash the 16 before the 15, losing a valuable discard from WEST (declarer having been able to mask the 16 at trick 7, West cannot be sure where the 16 is). Trick 11: WEST could have saved his QHeart because the declarer ruffs undoubtedly this suit and has only 2 trumps left.

Trick 12 to 15
12 9Spade .1Spade 6Club
13 .3Heart 1 4Heart
14 CSpade .3Spade 5Heart
15 .4Club 9Spade 8Club

Trick 12: EAST must find some discards and could dream to lock up the king of diamond if declarer smoked out in club (and all seems to indicate that it is the case). He must discard the carreau and not the club. Trick 14: WEST plays the Cspade before the queen to indicate to his partner that he still controls the suit.

Trick 16 to 19
16 1Diamond 4Diamond .CHeart
17 7Diamond 6Diamond .10Heart
18 5Diamond 5Spade .9Heart
19 10Diamond 6Spade .1Heart

EAST could repair his errors by giving the lead to his partner with the 9club so that WEST can cashes his DSpade, on which he could discard one of its damned Diamond. Unfortunately, he decided to cash the top club...

Demenagement Constantineau
trick 20 to 24
20 7Club 8Spade .KClub
21 9Club 9Diamond .JClub
22 QSpade JDiamond .3Club
23 QDiamond KDiamond .8Diamond
24 CDiamond .JSpade 3Diamond

At trick 22, WEST is defenseless! He must discard before declarer and no matter which suit he plays, declarer will discard the other suit to make the last 2 tricks. Check by yourself...

If WEST discards the Qdiamond, the declarer will discard the Jspade and makes the last 2 tricks with K-Jdiamond. Notice that the simple play of a diamond by EAST at trick 22 prevents this disastrous end (note: this deal is authentic and I report it such as it was played, I do not pretend that it's exemplary well played).

The threat cards are the 3 cards of the declarer which can make tricks and to which the squeezed player try to opposite his cards. The threat cards must absolutely be located behind the squeezed player.

The squeeze operates only after reducing the count, i.e. at the time when there is no more superfluous cards in WEST and declarer's hand. We can make the following rule: the squeeze operates only at X tricks of the end, X being equal to the number of threat cards (here 3).

Now, just for fun, let us add the QHeart in declarer's hand, the KHeart in WEST, the 2Club in EAST and lets play this famous 3Club by EAST, but this time at 4 tricks of the end. WEST discards the Qpique and declarer tosses the Jdiamond. Now EAST plays the 2club... you are not victim of a squeeze but of 2 successive squeezes, which is prettily named cascading squeeze! WEST has just made an exploit by not making any tricks with the combination Kheart-Qspade-QCdiamond facing QHeart-Jspade-KJdiamond !

The squeeze in a game of tarot is very rare because in the majority of deals the trumps are in play until the end, also because it requires several conditions to occur. Most of the time, it will be due to a error in defensive play as in the example which we had just seen. Actually, the exact term to define this type of squeeze should be suicide-squeeze since one of the defenders execute his partner unintentionnally.

Updated: 07/02/2016

Demenagement Constantineau