A Special Relationship
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I am not sure of the exact date, but it was very early in my bridge career that I first came across Clyde E. Love’s Bridge Squeezes Complete. At the time, I didn’t know what a bridge squeeze was. I was fascinated by the idea of producing a trick by forcing the opponents to discard a winner, setting up your own high card.
I read the first few chapters of Love very carefully, over and over. I would lay out the hands and plan out the play and then check the book. I put a lot of effort into learning how to execute simple squeezes. My friend Margaret had explained to me that you could frequently make extra tricks in notrump by just running your tricks and forcing the opponents to discard. Often this was the result of the opponents simply making wrong choices but sometimes they had no choice. They were squeezed. They had a choice of evils: which winner to throw.
By reading and understanding the book I came to learn the principles of simple squeezes: removing the opponents’ idle cards, managing your entries and so on. Later on I was indoctrinated into some of the more complex (and rare) squeezes. The winkle was a favorite – not because it came up, it was very rare — but because when some of my friends executed a winkle they would stand up on their chair and yell “WINKLE” so they could accept some applause.
When we had an opportunity to republish Love in a new edition, I volunteered to take charge and I soon enlisted Julian Pottage to help with the technical side since things could get quite complex in the later chapters. While the original was a wonderful book, it had become dated over time. Of course, there was some new squeeze theory that had been developed but that was not really the biggest issue. One problem was that bidding had changed so much since the 50s and 60s that the auctions in the book were virtually unrecognizable to a modern player. And bidding was important to the book because you used the bidding to make play decisions and sort out which cards each opponent held. The text itself was never easy – Love was math professor, and had a tendency to assume a level of comprehension in the reader that wasn’t there for most of us. In addition, bridge language itself had changed a bit, making things even harder for a modern reader.
So with Julian’s help, I worked through the book. We kept most of Love’s terminology for squeezes, much of which he invented and which became the standard for anyone describing squeeze positions. Anyone who has read the book will always remember BLUE! But we tried to simplify and to add more explanations. I wrote a whole new chapter on trump squeezes, which were treated in an almost perfunctory manner in the original – it feels like the publisher told Love, ‘Enough already, no more pages!’ And we added the new squeeze positions that have been described in the last fifty years or so, including Julian’s own mole squeezes. It was one of the toughest assignments technically I have ever undertaken in bridge, but ultimately I was pleased with the result, and very proud of what we accomplished.
As you can tell, I have strong feelings about this wonderful book. There are other books about squeezes, some perhaps more suited to newer players, but I still love “Love”. It established the theory of squeezes and created a vocabulary that everyone still uses today.
So now I have to think about who I know that will enjoy this book as much as me. It is best as a gift for a serious advancing bridge player who loves card play. This is perfect for Leslie, who comes to our intermediate classes in Sarasota, and gets almost all the play problems right. I think she’ll “love” it.