A steppingstone squeeze occurs when a defender is reduced to giving declarer an entry to an otherwise inaccessible winner. It is a type of strip-squeeze originally described by Terence Reese in "Master Play in Contract Bridge" in 1960. (The other two that Reese presented were the vice squeeze and the winkle.)

To illustrate:

J 2
West 3East
9 8 6 7
Q 4South
K 8

South is on lead needing 3 tricks. He only has 2 winners in hand — the Q and K — and no way to reach the good J in dummy.

If South plays the Q, though, West will be squeezed. To protect the Q, West might decide to discard a spade. In that case South continues with the K and the 8. West, thrown in, must ignominiously lead a spade to dummy's jack.

The steppingstone squeeze is so named because declarer uses a defender as a surrogate entry, or step, into the other hand.


The following deal was authored by the late writer Alan Truscott (1925 - 2005) for The New York Times.1 South landed in a 1NT contract and received an opening lead of the 4:

A J 7
J 6 4 2
West 10 8 7 4East
4 3 2 J 6 10 9 8
A 8 9 7 5 3
Q J 5 3South A 6
A K 9 8 K Q 6 5 Q 5 4 2
K Q 10
K 9 2
10 7 3

"As it turned out, a minor suit lead would have defeated the contract, but West tried a spade in the hope of finding a spade suit in his partner’s hand. The declarer won with the A in dummy and led a heart to his king. West won with the ace and shifted to clubs. After four rounds of the suit, West was on lead in this position:

J 7
J 6 4
West 10 8East
3 2 10 9
8 9 7 5
Q J 5 3South A 6
K Q 6
Q 10
K 9

"West continued with a spade, the only play to give South a problem. This severed the North-South communications, making it impossible to cash six winners in the major suits. However he plays, South finds himself cut off from either the J or his own fourth spade trick.

"South did not choose to stake everything on the position of the A, so he cashed his three spade tricks, throwing a diamond from dummy. East became the victim of a ‘steppingstone squeeze,’ a rare ending. In order to keep his three hearts, and prevent South from overtaking the ten with the jack in dummy effectively, East had to throw the 6. South cashed his queen and ten of hearts, noting the discard from West at the 11th trick.

"The declarer had to lead from his K at the 12th trick, but East had to take the ace and give dummy the last trick with the J."


1Truscott, A. (1968, December 5). Solodar and Bethe Form Pair at Last Minute and Win Title. The New York Times.

See also

  • Vice Squeeze
    A squeeze that operates against a defender's doubleton of touching rank, e.g. Q-J.