Some squeezes are extremely complex and also very rare. You mostly find them in books, for instance in one for the greatest books of all time, 'Adventures in Card Play' by Hugh Kelsey and Geza Óttlik. One of those squeezes is the pentagonal squeeze, a compound squeeze where both players guard two suits, and one player guards a third suit. On the play of a card the player guarding three suits must give up one of the shared guards in order not to provide immediate winners for declarer. Now each opponent singly guards one suit, and a third suit that is jointly guarded. This means that a double squeeze materialises.
Very complex already, is it not? Agreed, but look at the following deal from the 2012 Lady Milne Trophy match between England and Wales. Nicole Cook from England is our hero. She executed the pentagonal squeeze.
Six Diamonds is not a great slam, but we have all been in worse. Aida Aris led the six of clubs to the king and ace, and from there it was only a question of the queen of hearts. In one match declarer knocked out the ace of diamonds and eventually took a heart finesse for down one. Fair enough, quite normal. At this table, however, Nicole Cook showed the hundreds of spectators in the BBO VuGraph Theatre that the contract can make. She had a feeling that the finesse would not work and still found the route to success.
At trick two she drove out the ace of trumps and won the club return with the queen. She cashed the queen of diamonds, followed by a spade to the ace, the king of spades and a spade ruff. After she drew East's last trump with her jack this was the position with five cards left:
When Cook played the nine of diamonds, West had to part with the jack of spades, the suit both defenders could guard. A heart was discarded from the dummy, and East could spare her club. Now the six of diamonds turned the three-three split in hearts into two-two!
Aris was forced to pitch a heart in order to guard the clubs, so now the menace in that suit, the ten, had done its job and away it went. Linda Greenland obviously had to keep the queen of spades and also let go a heart. As West was unlikely to have started with both the queen and jack of spades when she did not lead one, East was pretty much show-up squeezed from a holding of 4-3-2; certainly not an everyday occurrence.
Hearts were now two-two, and Cook could take the last three tricks in the suit. Fine declarer play indeed. 920 points and 10 IMPs to England compared with 3NT+2 at the other table.
The observant reader will have noticed that the contract cannot be made on a spade or diamond lead. In fact, it can also be defeated on the club lead it got. If East had followed small at trick one, she would still have the king and there would be no squeeze. That is all double dummy of course, for what if West had led from the queen? Then the king must be played.
Finally, East did the bridge journalists a favour when she returned a club after winning the ace of diamonds. If she had switched to a heart, the pentagonal squeeze would have vanished and the rather boring 'simple' heart-club squeeze against West would probably have been the theme.
Roland Wald, April 2012
Paul adds ... with BBO's handviewer you can step through all the play using the 'Next' button (you can use the GIB button to see the positions where the defence could have broken the squeeze if they could see all four hands):
The beauty of this line is that Cook always retained the option of finessing in hearts, but gave herself the extra chance of a squeeze or defensive error. The fact that such a remarkable squeeze transpired may not have been seen at trick one, but if you never give yourself the chance then it never will.