By Joe Andrews, author of "The Complete Win At Hearts"

Other columns by Joe Andrews:
   
The Soderlund Squeeze - Great Hands, Great Players
The game of Hearts has been around for more than 200 years.

This beautiful specimen of the rarest form of the only Squeeze play in Hearts was seen at the Finals of the 1978 National Open Tournament (New York City). This is the second example of this variation ever observed. The play is attributable to the peculiar qualities of the Queen of Spades. Although she is a member of the Spade suit, her point value gives her a Heart-like identity.

The late Jack Soderlund of Tewksbury, Massachusetts, the first Hearts Life Master, executed this brilliant play. Let's look at the layout:
Soderlund (West) was very surprised to receive three high cards in the minor suits; however, South was reluctant to part with his valuable Heart Deuce. He felt even better after receiving the Spade Queen from East, as his hand was now quite satisfactory.

North opened with the mandatory Deuce of Clubs as East won with his King, while Soderlund ducked. Note: Always assume that low cards are played unless otherwise specified. (Jack) Soderlund had intentionally kept the Ace of Spades in his hand, hoping to catch the Queen, followed by the run of his long Hearts. East now shifted to the conservative Five of Diamonds, rather than underlead his Spade King. South and West both played their lowest Diamonds, and North's Diamond Jack won.

The Spade Seven was taken by South's eightspot, as East and West ducked low. Now the Club Four was trotted out on the table, and West was in with the Ace. The Diamond Queen was played, and South wisely ducked. Fearing a heart discard on the Diamond King, Soderlund now led his Spade Ace. North dumped the Heart Nine, and East heaved his King. South defended brilliantly, and resisted the lure of unloading the Queen. Drawing inferences from the play, West surmised that South held the Diamond Ace and the Spade Queen. If so, the ending would be forced, as in a game of chess.

Jack now announced "Checkmate in seven moves," and ran his top five Hearts, leaving this ending:
When Jack led his Three of Hearts, he utterly "squashed" South, who had no saving discard. The discard of the Spade Queen would have been an instant surrender, so he shed his Diamond Ace. But Jack produced the diamond King, now a winner, and extended his hand. The kibitzers applauded. It was a marvelous play by a legendary Life Master!

 
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