The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXX: An Unkind Cut


The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXX: An Unkind Cut

By Ray Adams

  Most bridge buffs like bidding gadgets, and Poor Frank is no exception. O f course, any convention designed to give information to partner can also inform the opponents as Poor Frank recently found out.


In the auction, Poor Frank’s 2♠ bid showed ten cards in hearts and an unnamed minor. North’s double was card showing and all other bids were natural, although Lucky Archie’s final call of 6♠ was more than a trifle aggressive.

Poor Frank led the nine of diamonds, taken by dummy’s ace. Declarer ruffed a diamond, then led the king of spades. Poor Frank took his ace and exited with another diamond, again ruffed by declarer. The Lucky One then drew trumps in two more rounds. It was now clear that Lucky Archie could make his small slam if only he could bring in the club suit with no loss. The normal way to play a 6-3 fit would be to bang down the ace and king and hope for a 2-2 split. However, Poor Frank’s Michael Cue Bid of 2♠ showed declarer another way.

Poor Frank had announced ten cards in the red suits and had turned up with two spades. That only left him room for one club. So Lucky Archie led a small club to dummy’s king, played the three and inserted the jack when East followed low. Poor Frank showed out and subsequently declarer played his ace, dropping East’s queen and claimed. This outstanding result allowed Lucky Archie to pass Poor Frank that evening and once again claim top honors at the club.

“I had him beat, dear,” Poor Frank said to Janet later that evening as they discussed the boards from the session. “But, for once he remembered how to count to thirteen. Who would have ever guessed?”

“Ah, that’s too bad, darling,” Janet said, “but your bid made it too easy for him. It turned out to be a two-edged sword and the one edge ended up cutting your own throat. An unkind cut to be sure, but that’s the danger you always face when you give away too much information – even to an idiot like Archie.”

Poor Frank shook his head and reached across the table and squeezed her hand.

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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXIX: Walk a Mile


The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXIX: Walk a Mile

By Ray Adams


Lucky Archie had a nice lead on Poor Frank going into the last board of the evening. But Frank still had a chance if somehow he managed to come out with a top result:



In the auction, North’s 2NT showed the two lower suits, spades not being a possible lower suit. In this case, that meant North had to hold hearts and clubs. Poor Frank’s four heart call was certainly aggressive, as was North’s six heart bid, and who could blame Lucky Archie for doubling with his heart holding and the possibility of two outside tricks in his hand?


Unfortunately for the Lucky One, he did not get off to the best start on this hand, leading the ace of clubs. Poor Frank ruffed this and advanced the three of hearts, playing dummy’s eight when Archie followed with the seven. This took the trick and Poor Frank came to hand with the ace of spades. He played his last trump, inserting the ten when Lucky Archie followed with the nine. Once again, this held, as East showed out.

Next came a diamond to the ace, and Poor Frank now advanced the queen of spades to the king and a ruff in dummy. He returned to his hand with the king of diamonds to run spades through his rival. Lucky Archie was helpless. If he ruffed with his queen, Poor Frank would overruff and run clubs, losing only to the ace of trumps. And if Lucky Archie ruffed with the ace, Poor Frank would throw a club, ruff any exit by Archie, draw the queen of trumps, and claim. Six hearts doubled, bid, and made! This was a total top for Poor Frank and allowed him to win that evening’s laurels.

Later, when Poor Frank was discussing that evening’s hands with Janet, she told him how the crowd at the studio had reacted to this result.

“I love it, darling,” she said breathlessly. “Everyone’s calling Archie ‘Poor Archie’ now. And of course, they’ve named you ‘Lucky Frank.’”

“Well,” Poor Frank said, “it’s about time Lucky Archie found out what it’s like to walk a bridge mile in my shoes.”

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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXVIII: The Archie Who Had Too Much

The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXVIII: The Archie Who Had Too Much


By Ray Adams

Poor Frank and Lucky Archie were in a virtual tie for first when the last hand of the evening came up. Poor Frank became declarer in a doubled game after a very contentious auction.


North’s 3H bid was definitely on the aggressive side and it led Poor Frank to compete to 4H, an action which caused Lucky Archie to slam his double card on the table.

“You are going down, Frankie baby,” he said as he led the ace of diamonds, “and I am going to win tonight.”

The Lucky One grimaced when he saw the queen of diamonds in the dummy. East played the eight on this trick, suggesting an original holding of four diamonds. Now he cashed the ace of clubs and, since it looked as though South had started with only one diamond, exited with a small trump. Poor Frank won the king and returned the queen. Lucky Archie won his ace and got out with his last small trump. He looked at Poor Frank and grinned, certain that he was going to get a spade or a diamond and set his rival.

Poor Frank looked thoughtful and turned to Archie. “You know, sometimes a person can have too much in the way of riches,” he said. “And then he has to spend all his time guarding what he has. There are times when he just can’t do it.”

“You should knock off the fairy tales and play better bridge,” Archie replied.

Poor Frank nodded his head. He led a club to the jack, cashed dummy’s queen, and returned to his hand with the ace of spades. Lucky Archie was humming to himself, happy with what he perceived to be the ultimate outcome of this hand.

Poor Frank now cashed the king of clubs and led his penultimate trump. Lucky Archie threw a small spade on this. He was now down to the king of diamonds and the queen and jack of spades. His smile suddenly disappeared when Poor Frank led his last trump. He had to save the king of diamonds, so he tossed his jack of spades, hoping that East had the ten.

East did have this card, but it fell on the ace along with Lucky Archie’s queen when Poor Frank led a spade. Dummy’s nine now took the game going trick and Poor Frank easily won that evening’s laurels with this top board.

“Sometimes it’s better to be poor and humble than rich and arrogant and lose what you value most,” Poor Frank said to his rival. And for once, Lucky Archie was speechless.

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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXVII: Lucky Archie’s Merrimac Coup


The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXVII: Lucky Archie’s Merrimac Coup

By Ray Adams


Poor Frank and Lucky Archie were in a close fight for first place just the other night at the local duplicate club. As usual, it all came down to one crucial hand:

cxvIn the auction, three diamonds showed at least a five card diamond suit plus useful values that included an ace or a king. The subsequent four club bid confirmed the ace of clubs. Armed with this knowledge, Poor Frank confidently bid six hearts. Lucky Archie, looking at his ace and king of spades, decided Poor Frank had made a mistake, and to show his contempt for his rival, doubled.

The Lucky One started the defensive attack by leading his ace of spades. Flushed with success when this took the trick, Archie reached for the king of spades so he could quickly put an end to Poor Frank’s misery. But instead, he grabbed the wrong black king and the club monarch landed face up on the table.

Poor Frank’s heart skipped a beat when he saw this card. Lucky Archie had just executed a Merrimac Coup, but did he really know what he was doing? Somehow, Poor Frank doubted it. The play of the club king had removed Poor Frank’s late entry to dummy so he was now unable to run dummy’s diamond suit after drawing trumps. Poor Frank played it out, but East saved his ten of clubs and even though Lucky Archie threw away his top clubs to hold onto the useless king of spades, Poor Frank was still down one and the Lucky One had somehow won again.

Later, when he was discussing that evening’s hands with Janet, Poor Frank said. “I know Lucky Archie had no idea what he was doing. He simply pulled the wrong card and it was the only one that could have sunk me!”

“I’m sure you’re right, darling,” Janet said. “I doubt if Archie even knows the name for what he did.”

“You’ve got that right, Janet,” Poor Frank said. “After the hand was over, I asked him, ‘Archie, do you know what a Merrimac Coup is?’ His answer was, ‘Don’t be insulting, Frank. Of course I do. I know my Civil War history.’”

“He actually said that?” Janet said, laughing. “Well, Frank, I think we have to monitor this situation before it gets out of hand.”

Poor Frank smiled, amazed at how Janet could always make him feel good even when Lucky Archie had gotten the best of him.

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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXVI: Poor Frank’s Jest


The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXVI: Poor Frank’s Jest

By Ray Adams

Poor Frank was smarting from recent Lucky Archie victories when the following hand came up:cxvijpeg

East opened one heart and Poor Frank was in a playful mood. He knew he was not strong enough

to overcall two clubs, but felt he could make a disruptive one level overcall of a spade. It was simply a jest on his part. Indeed, he even chuckled to himself as he flopped the one spade card on the table. His laugh soon turned to a grimace when his partner quickly put him in the spade game. Poor Frank felt like throwing up when he saw the dummy. He was playing in a 4-3 fit instead of the vastly superior 6-3 club fit. How had he ever duplicated the bad bidding of players like Lucky Archie?

West led the ace of hearts, ruffed by Poor Frank. He led a club to the ace and ruffed another heart. Next came a club to the king, ruffed by East. East exited a heart, and Poor Frank trumped with his ten. He then cashed his king of spades, felling East’s queen.

When declarer led another club, Lucky Archie ruffed and Poor Frank unblocked dummy’s queen. The Lucky One exited with a diamond, but Poor Frank was now in control. He won dummy’s ace, cashed the two top spades, sluffing his losing diamonds and claimed, winning the last three tricks with his high clubs.

Making 450 on this hand beat all other scores. Most pairs had gotten 150 or 400 for some number of clubs. As the local bridge buffs lined up to congratulate him, Poor Frank realized that his jest had worked and for once, he was enjoying the last laugh.

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The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part XVIII: A Bad Overcall


The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part XVIII: A Bad Overcall

By Ray Adams


Team Porcupine was locked in a close match with a top team at a recent regional when the following hand came up:



When Kowalski/Nograwowicz held the NS cards, the bidding went as in the top auction above. West led a low club and Nograwowicz won dummy’s king, played a club to the ace, and ruffed a club in dummy, as West followed with the queen. When Nograwowicz saw the queen, he realized that East had overcalled two clubs on a suit to the jack/ten. He knew the player sitting East to be an otherwise sound bidder and this caused him to make the assumption that East must hold all the missing kings and probably the queen of hearts also. This explains why he now played a low heart from dummy, a most unusual way to play the trump suit.

However, as he expected, East won the queen and now looked to all the world like a man who had been endplayed. East finally decided to exit with a club. Declarer discarded a diamond and ruffed in dummy. He then cashed the ace of diamonds and led a low diamond, East rising with the king. Nograwowicz ruffed this and led a heart to the ace. He cashed the queen of diamonds and led a low diamond from dummy. East had to toss his last club.

Nograwowicz ruffed the diamond and then threw East in with a trump. East had to lead from his king of spades into dummy’s ace/queen tenace. Making five for +650 looked to be a super result for Team Porcupine. Indeed, it was. At the other table, Konejwicz refused to overcall two clubs and normal defense and declarer play meant that four hearts was down one. Team Porcupine had picked up 13 imps on this board in a match they only won by 8 imps! Clearly, East should never have overcalled and given a great declarer like Nograwowicz so much information.

Team Porcupine would like to thank Bill Nutting of Stockton, California, for giving them this hand to play. In fact, Stanislaus Kowalski even said, “If we ever face Mr. Nutting’s team, you can rest assured that we will go out of our way to avoid bad overcalls.”





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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CIX: Lucky Archie’s Brilliant Endplay


The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CIX:  Lucky Archie’s Brilliant Endplay

By Ray Adams

A pleasant night at the local duplicate club ended on a strange note when Lucky Archie tried to lose four tricks, but was unable to do so.



Lucky Archie arrived in a four heart contract after his rival, Poor Frank, started with a pre-empt in spades.  West led the ten of spades, and the kibitzers pulled their chairs a little closer to the action as they realized that the outcome of this hand would determine who finished first that afternoon.

Lucky Archie read the ten of spades as the obvious singleton it was and rose with dummy’s ace to win the trick.  He then drew trumps in two rounds.  Next came the ace and king of clubs, declarer hoping that the queen might drop doubleton.  This was not to be.  Lucky Archie now cashed the ace of diamonds and then threw the nine of diamonds down on the table.  He started to expose his cards as he began to concede two spades, a diamond, and a club.

“Now, let’s not be hasty,” North said, realizing that his partner was on the verge of conceding.  “Let’s play it out and see what happens.”

“Don’t you have a clear understanding of what the word ‘dummy’ means?”  Poor Frank said in an angry voice.

Poor Frank won the trick with his jack.  He cashed two spade tricks, but then had to concede a ruff and a sluff, allowing the Lucky One to pitch his losing club as he ruffed in dummy to claim this shaky game.

“What a brilliant endplay,” the chief kibitzer said.  “Notice that if West wins the diamond with the king, he can cash a club, but then has to give declarer a ruff and sluff for his tenth trick.  Now I think you all have to agree, Lucky Archie is a formidable declarer.”  And the other kibitzers cheered the Lucky One.

Poor Frank, on the other hand, had to grasp his right hand with his left to keep from pulling out another huge clump of hair.


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The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part XVII: An Unlikely Squeeze



The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part XVII:  An Unlikely Squeeze

y Ray Adams

Porczouk Nograwowicz of Team Porcupine is well know for his brilliant declarer play.  When questioned about why he strokes the dummy so well, Nograwowicz says that if he has any success, it is only because he gives every hand – even the most mundane – all of his attention.  The following hand, which occurred in a tough knockout match in a big regional, is an example of this:




When Kowalski/Nograwowicz were North/South, they produced the top auction.  Kowalski’s takeout double was eccentric, to say the least, but his partner did have five diamonds and two diamonds looked to be a playable contract.

West led the king of hearts, taken by dummy’s ace.  Declarer led the queen of diamonds, won by North’s king.  North cashed the queen of hearts, then played the ten of hearts, ruffed by declarer.  When Nograwowicz played the jack of diamonds, West followed with the eight as East won his ace.  This looked all the world to declarer as though diamonds were breaking 4-2, with East holding the four.  Thus, when East led hearts, Nograwowicz declined to ruff, saving his trumps to draw East’s when he got in.  Meanwhile, he tossed two clubs from hand and a club and spade from dummy.

After cashing the hearts, the defense had taken five tricks and East exited with a spade.  Nograwowicz was certain West had the king, so he rose with his ace and drew the last two trumps, sluffing spades from the dummy, leaving only the ace, queen, and eight of clubs left in the visible hand.  But the last diamond put tremendous pressure on West, who was being squeezed.  West had to either come down to king doubleton of clubs and the king of spades or three clubs to the king and no spades.

Either way, Nograwowicz had the rest of the tricks when he took the club finesse.  He had made the pedestrian contract of two diamonds on a squeeze!  Plus 90 for Team Porcupine.

At the other table, Pas/Konejwicz used a forcing NT auction to arrive at two hearts.  Konejwicz easily won eight tricks, losing only one spade, one heart, one diamond, and two clubs.  This was plus 110 to Team Porcupine.  Had Nograwowicz gone down in his two diamond contract, the board would have been a push, but instead Team Porcupine picked up five imps in a match they only won by 2.  This seemingly insignificant board had turned into a game breaker due to the care Nograwowicz gives every hand he declares.



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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXIII: Lucky Archie’s Brilliant Defense


The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXIII:  Lucky Archie’s Brilliant Defense

By Ray Adams

Things were going well for Poor Frank the other night at the local duplicate club.  The winner would be determined by who came out ahead when he met Lucky Archie on the last round:



Poor Frank reached the normal contract of four hearts and Lucky Archie led the ace of diamonds, hoping for a ruff.  East played the four on this trick.  Lucky Archie studied his partner’s card for several minutes.  Since he could see the two and three in the dummy, the four had to be East’s smallest diamond.  Thus, East had to be signaling for a switch to clubs, the lowest ranking non-trump suit.

Lucky Archie decided to act on his reasoning and chose the two of clubs to lead, as that card would suggest to East to return the lowest ranking non-trump suit, or diamonds.  With one diamond, one club, one ruff, and the king of hearts to come, Lucky Archie knew he would set Poor Frank and win that evening.  He smiled to himself at his brilliance.

Thus, Lucky Archie tossed a black deuce on the table.  But when he looked at it, he saw much to his horror, that it was the deuce of spades!  Lucky Archie was appalled.  He had underled his ace and king of spades.  Now Poor Frank would win his queen and make an overtrick.  What a rotten turn of events!

But East produced the queen and returned a diamond.  Lucky Archie ruffed this and Poor Frank was soon down one.  Even though he was in total misery, Poor Frank remained ever gracious.

“Well, Archie,” he said, “underleading your ace and king of spades was a brilliant play.  You could never have set me otherwise.”

“It was risky,” Lucky Archie said, “but when you play to win….”  He left the sentence unfinished and gave Poor Frank an encouraging smile.

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The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part X: Breaking the Rules


The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part X:  Breaking the Rules

By Ray Adams

Most bridge buffs get the most out of their bidding by following the rules.  This makes for consistency and allows partner to interpret your bids correctly.  But there are certain times when rules should be broken.  Team Porcupine has made a career out of breaking the rules at the right time.TPXTeam captain Stari Pas was West in the top auction above.  Normally, holding a hand that is 6-5 in the majors, it is correct to bid the six card suit first and then the five card suit.  However, Pas reasoned that his hand was extremely weak in high cards, although strong in distribution.  Thus, he decided to get both majors into the auction by bidding spades first.  This led to him and Konejwicz finding their spade fit and arriving at four spades.

North led the ace of hearts, ruffed in dummy.  Pas cashed the ace of diamonds and ruffed a diamod.  He then knocked out the ace of trumps, ruffing another diamond in the process and establishing the suit.  The opponents were only able to cash the ace of spades and the ace of clubs.  Making five, for plus 450.

At the other table, West correctly bid hearts, the six card suit, first.  This led to spades getting shut out of the auction and Nograwowicz ended up declaring three clubs.  The opponents started out like gangbusters.  A diamond to the queen, a diamond ruff, and a heart ruff.  East cashed the ace of diamonds, but there were no more ruffs available to West, and Nograwowicz soon claimed nine tricks for plus 110.

The opponents briefly debated whether they could have set the contract with a heart lead, but even that defense would have failed.  True, East would have gotten two ruffs, but then the best the defense could have done was the ace of diamonds and one diamond ruff for the same result.

So, when the dust cleared, Team Porcupine had picked up 11 imps on this hand for a nice swing that allowed them to win the match.  It was a sweet reward for knowing when to break the rules.

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