Through inaccurate defense it is possible that one defender may put a squeeze on his partner. Although totally unintentional this situation may under certain circumstances not be unavoidable. The circumstances surrounding a suicide squeeze occurs when a defender is squeezed by a card played by his partner.

Other Designation

This type of squeeze is also referred to as the Cannibal Squeeze, and has been known as a play technique since the early days of the game of Whist.

The following example should clarify the concept.


West is on lead and plays the 3 of Diamonds. This play, however, squeezes his partner East, because East is forced to discard. This is the suicide squeeze by one defender on his partner.

After playing the 3 of Diamonds, and East is forced to discard either the Ace of Hearts or any Club card, South is able then to win the remaining two tricks.

Therefore, West must lead a Club. In this manner, South can only win one trick.

The bridge student can also review the following play made on the same board by two different declarers and two different defense techniques. It represents the description by Mr. Rowen Bell of the University of Chicago Bridge Club for Hands of the Week and which includes a cannibal squeeze (or suicide squeeze). The article is presented in its entirety.

Hand of the Week, 3/28/96
by Rowen Bell

This week's hand illustrates an advantage of the so-called Weak Notrump and at the same time presents interesting defensive and play situations.

This hand arose in a knockout match, so the scoring is IMPS. South is the dealer, and East-West are vulnerable. The hands:


In the open room, North-South were playing that a 1 NT opening shows a balanced hand with 12 to 15 high-card points - the so-called Weak Notrump. Advocates of the Weak Notrump don't insist that the bid promise a stopper in every suit, as hands in that range with stoppers in all four suits are comparatively rare. Consequently, South had no qualms about opening the bidding with 1 NT despite the Spade weakness.

West passed. Opposite a strong Notrump, North would certainly bid 2 Clubs (Stayman) with his 8 high card points, searching for a game in Hearts or Notrump. However, opposite a weak notrump North knows that game should be out of reach, as the partnership has at most 23 high card points between the two hands. Even though Hearts might be superior, North should pass 1 NT; the contract should be playable, and any action on North's part might push North-South too high if South has minimum values.

East could have bid 2 Spades at this point, but he instead chose to pass and defend 1 NT. If West ever leads Spades, East will have 5 tricks in that suit; and on this auction, West has some values which could contribute to the defense, leading East to believe that 1 NT is beatable.

So, South's 1 NT opening ended the auction. With no clues from the bidding to guide his lead, West chose to lead fourth-best from his longest and strongest suit, and hence tabled the five of Clubs. South played low from dummy and won the trick in hand with the Queen.

After the Club lead, South has six top tricks, and additional tricks are easily established in the red suits. Even if he mis-guesses whichever red suit he first attacks, the defense can only take one red trick and five Spades before conceding the remaining tricks to declarer. 1 NT is unbeatable on a Club lead, and the lead offers excellent chances for overtricks (which aren't terribly important at IMP scoring, but are dreadfully important at matchpoints).

South can make as many as ten tricks; at the table. South managed to take nine tricks despite a mis-guess. He started by guessing the Hearts correctly, picking up four tricks in the suit. He then led the King of Diamonds followed by the Jack, which West captured with the Queen. West returned a Club to South's Ace, and now South cashed the Ace of Diamonds for his 8th trick, on which East discarded the Ace of Spades (!) as a violent suit-preference signal. Down to nothing but four small Spades, South exited with a Spade to dummy's Ten. East won with the Jack and cashed two top Spades, but on the last trick his seven of Spades lost to declarer's eight! +150 for North-South.

In the "closed room", the auction started along standard lines: South opened 1 Club (with 3 cards in each Minor, one generally bids 1 Club), West passed, North bid 1 Heart, and now East overcalled 1 Spade. South now made an unorthodox decision and bid 1 NT despite not having a Spade stopper. (The 1 NT bid accurately describes South's shape and strength in this auction; his choices were 1 NT and pass, and he chose to bid. Playing support doubles, South could avoid his dilemma by doubling to show 3-card Heart support; but this would simply pass the problem to North on this layout.) This ended the auction.

East's overcall indicated to West that a Spade lead might be profitable, and so he neglected a Club lead in favor of the nine of Spades. East won the trick with the Queen and now faced a difficult decision. If he cashes his Spade tricks now, his partner might be pressured into making discards which would allow the contract to succeed. (This situation is called a Cannibal Squeeze, as one defender is eating away at his partner's cards by cashing his own winners.) Indeed, if South runs his four remaining Spade tricks at this point, South must discard two Clubs and a Diamond, and declarer is left with many chances of making.

East chose to retain communication between the two defensive hands by returning a low Club, counting on West to return a Spade later in the hand. With the Spades wide open, South chose to win this trick with the Ace instead of trying a finesse which was likely to lose. He would still have made the contract had he guessed the Hearts correctly. However, since East had made an overcall, South quite naturally chose to play East for the Queen of Hearts. Consequently, South played low to the Heart King followed by a low Heart to the Jack.

West won the Queen of Hearts and returned his second Spade. East now ran his Spades, with West pitching three Diamonds. East then returned his second Club. No matter what South does at this point, West must win four Club tricks before conceding the last trick to South. Declarer took only three tricks! +200 for East-West, resulting in an 8-IMP pickup on the board.

As a final note, observe that South has better chances after the Club shift if he makes a counter-intuitive play and ducks. If West continues Clubs, then he has given South both a second trick in that suit and the tempo needed to establish a seventh trick in a red suit. If he leads Spades, then East must now cash the Spade tricks since he cannot count on West's having a third Spade. When East exits for the second time with a Club, South can win, and it is now natural to finesse West for the red Queens in the hope that East started with just two Clubs. (Yes, losing a finesse means that the contract is down; but down one is much better than down many at IMPS.)



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.