A strip squeeze is defined as a play technique by the declarer, whereby the declarer has two or more losers remaining, which would result in the defeat of the contract. By cashing first the winning tricks the declarer forces a defender to discard winners and/or exit cards, which as a result, as soon as the defender is thrown in or wins the last trick discovers that any lead will be unable to defeat the contract.

The play technique, although quite well known, does not restrict the number of suits, which is the case of the Belladonna strip squeeze. Source: OEofB, 7th Edition, 2011, pp473. Again, it must be noted that this is one of those particular squeeze techniques named for the discoverer of such a play technique similar to the Seres Squeeze.

The particular uniqueness of the Belladonna strip squeeze is the fact, that the declarer must win two tricks in order to fulfill the contract when only two suits are involved. Perhaps Mr. Giorgio Belladonna, born June 7, 1923 and died May 12, 1995, as one of the leading bridge personalities and theoretician of the game from the country of Italy did not indeed encounter such a squeeze play technique as the first bridge player, but he was certainly the first bridge player, who recorded it in detail and publish it as a unique form of a strip squeeze.

Note: It must be pointed out to the bridge student that the Belladonna strip squeeze is not identical to the Belladonna coup, which is defined as the play of a low card away from an accompanying high card, thereby providing the opponent(s) an impossible choice between creating a winner for the declarer and then abandoning an attack on another, second suit.

The comparison is described in the article between two declarers, who defend the identical contract and who both receive the same lead. The play techniques of both declarers are presented in order for the bridge student to examine the difference between the two declarers.

Note: The photograph of Mr. Giorgio Belladonna is from the 1950s. Any additional information would be greatly appreciated.

     
     

The Deal and Auction

North
7652
K62
J63
KQ3
West
KJ94
QJ54
104
1052
East (D)
83
108
52
AJ98764
South
AQ10
A973
AKQ987
 
West   North   East   South
        4   5
Pass   5 NT   Pass   6
Pass   Pass   Pass    

At both tables West led a small Club owing to partner's opening preempt of 4 Clubs. As the declarer Mr. James (Jim) Jacoby, the son of one of the leading bridge personalities of the United States at that time, Mr. Oswald Jacoby, called for the Queen of Clubs from the dummy. East plays the Ace of Club and Mr. James Jacoby trumps with a small Diamond. The declarer can assume from the layout of the cards that ten tricks can be counted securely.

Both declarers, Mr. James Jacoby and Mr. Giorgio Belladonna, play identically by casing the Ace and King of trumps only to discover that, fortunately, the split is 2-2 between the two defenders.

On the 4th trick, however, is where the line of thought changes. Mr. James Jacoby, a formidable player, proceeds to play under the assumption, which is neither an illogical nor unreasonable play strategy, that East holds a doubleton Spade honor, resulting in only eleven tricks. This assumption is also extended to the holding of Jack-x-x, which would ultimately result is twelve tricks, thereby fulfilling the contract of 6 Diamonds. In the case that the first option, a doubleton Spade honor, were true, then Mr. James Jacoby would only need to rely on squeezing West in the Major suit for a twelfth trick.

Following this strategy Mr. Jame Jacoby crosses to the dummy with the Jack of Diamonds, trump, and discards a Heart on the winning trick of King *.

* Note: It is at this juncture in declaring that the play technique of both declarers part ways, differ, and disagree.

Note: The definition of juncture is a crisis situation or point in time when a critical decision must be made.

Following this play Mr. James Jacoby next finessed the 10 of Spades. As the cards are displayed West won the trick with the Jack of Spades and then led a Club. East held two low Spades, and as a result there was no possibility of recovering from the incorrect play strategy and the result was down one.

Belladonna Strip Squeeze

Mr. Giorgio Belladonna followed the same play strategy as Mr. James Jacoby, but when he crossed to the dummy to the Jack of Diamonds, trump, he discarded the 10 of Spades on the King of Clubs. This was the difference in the play technique. Mr. James Jacoby discarded a Heart on the King of Clubs.

The result of the layout of the cards for all four players is as follows:

North
7652
K62
 
 
West
KJ9
QJ54
 
 
East (D)
83
108
 
J98
South
AQ
A973
9
 

Mr. Giorgio Belladonna realizes that he must win six tricks of the remaining seven tricks in order to fulfill the contract when only two suits are involved. Therefore, the reasoning was different from that of Mr. James Jacoby. The main question was what would West play when he, as declarer, would lead his last trump. If West discarded a Spade, the he would discard a Heart from the dummy. On the next trick He would lead the Ace of Spades, win the trick, and lay the Queen of Spades on the table.

This play technique would result in winning two Spades tricks, the seven and six of Spades, in dummy. The final result would be that Mr. Giorgio Belladonna would in effect win three Spade tricks, two Heart tricks, and a trump trick in order to satisfy and fulfill the contract of 6 Diamonds.

Note: A later analysis of this particular deal and play technique proved that had West discarded a Heat on the last trump trick, then West would have gained no advantage. Mr. Giorgio Belladonna would, as a consequence, continue with the Ace of Hearts, then the King of Hearts, followed by a third Heart, finessing for a total of two Spade tricks, three Heart tricks, and a trump trick.

 

 

If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.

 


     
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