The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLXXXII: Wrong is Right

By Ray Adams

The adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLXXXII: Wrong is Right


Can wrong be right? When Lucky Archie is in the equation, anything is possible.


Red Dyeman and Lucky Archie produced a nice bidding sequence to arrive at six diamonds – only they didn’t! At the last moment, when Lucky Archie thought he had put the six diamond bid on the table, he had actually put the six heart card down. Red assumed Archie knew what he was doing – after all Red had four good hearts of his own – and he passed. So six hearts became the final contract and Poor Frank led the king of spades.

Lucky Archie immediately called the director and explained that his left hand opponent had led out of turn. It took the other three players a good five minutes to convince Lucky Archie that he was playing six hearts and Red was the dummy. When this sank in, Lucky Archie immediately fainted. Luckily, the director had smelling salts for just such an occasion, and the Lucky One was soon revived.

The king of spades went to Archie’s ace and he immediately ruffed a small spade in dummy. Next came a heart to the ace and a heart back to the jack, finessing the queen. This held and the king of hearts was cashed, leaving Poor Frank’s queen as the only trump remaining. Lucky Archie now ran the diamonds, but Poor Frank ruffed in on the third round. Poor Frank had only clubs left and he exited with a sneaky nine of clubs. Lucky Archie had no choice but to let this run around to his queen. He now led a club to the good dummy and claimed. Of course, this was a top result for him and let him slide past Poor Frank into first place that evening.

Later, when Poor Frank was discussing the evening’s hands with Janet, he said, “How can wrong be right? And how come when it is right, I’m always the victim?”

“What’s interesting about this hand, darling, is that it’s cold for seven diamonds. All you have to do is take the heart finesse, ruff a heart and lead the queen of clubs to smother the singleton jack in the East hand. Now if someone had bid and made seven diamonds, would they have been wrong?”

“No, dearest, they would have been lucky overbidders. But what Archie did was just plain wrong. It goes against all the teachings of the great bridge gurus.”

“Well, darling, would it be wrong for you to come right over here?”

And that put Poor Frank back in a good mood.




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The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part LXII: A Porcupine Winkle

The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part LXII: A Porcupine Winkle

By Ray Adams

One of the more interesting plays in bridge is the winkle. This occurs when the opponents have enough tricks to set a contract, but are unable to cash them due to a blockage. Most likely, many declarers have stumbled onto winkles and later wondered how they made that contract. But when Porczouk Nograwowicz is involved, you can be sure, the winkle is no accident.


East’s 2♣ bid was alerted and explained as showing 5-5 in the majors. West led a spade and declarer ruffed the spade continuation. He led a diamond to dummy and ruffed dummy’s last spade. The queen of diamonds drew the last enemy trump and Nograwowicz now cashed out the heart suit, ending in hand. It certainly appeared that East had two clubs, as he had shown up with one diamond and presumably was 5-5 in the majors.

It was possible for West to hold both the ace and queen of clubs and a simple finesse would then bring the contract home. But Nograwowicz had a feeling that East might well hold the queen of clubs. If so, then there was another way besides the finesse to come to eleven tricks.

Regular readers of this blog know that if Nograwowicz has a choice between a simple finesse and a more dynamic play, he will always choose the latter. And that’s what he did on this hand. He led a club and when West played low, he inserted the king. When this held, he led a low club. East won his queen, but did not have another club to lead to set the contract. Instead, East had to lead a heart or a spade and give Nograwowicz a ruff and a sluff. Making five diamonds on a winkle!

Readers might notice that it would have done West no good to overtake his partner’s queen with his ace, for then dummy’s jack would have taken the game-going trick. The result on this hand picked up several imps for Team Porcupine and helped them win a close match.

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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXCV: Two Bad Slams, Part II

The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXCV: Two Bad Slams, Part II

By Ray Adams

Readers will recall that Lucky Archie made six spades on a 4-2 fit on this hand in last week’s column. Now they can see how Poor Frank fared.

Poor Frank reached six no trump on an auction that he may not have been proud of, but the contract did have some play. Unbeknownst to him, Lucky Archie had made six spades on this hand, so it was do or die for Poor Frank.

West led the nine of diamonds, won by dummy’s queen. Poor Frank saw he had eleven top tricks and possible extras in the club and spade suits. He went after clubs first, cashing the ace and queen and leading a club to his king, West tossing a diamond on this trick. He saw he had two possibilities left: someone could have three spades to the jack and ten or one player might be squeezed in spades and hearts if that player had four spades and the two high hearts.

Exercising good technique, Poor Frank played his fourth club to rectify the count, and throwing a heart from dummy as he allowed East to win. East immediately shot back the ten of hearts, Poor Frank winning his ace and noticing the queen fall from the West hand. Next came the remaining three top diamonds. West had already discarded two diamonds on the four club leads, so came under pressure on the fourth diamond from Poor Frank’s hand.

West could see what a discard of the king of hearts would do, so he let go a spade. Poor Frank now ran his spades from the top and claimed when his nine of spades was the last one left at trick thirteen. This was a brilliant result for Poor Frank, but was not a top, since a couple of other players in 6NT had played for the king and queen of hearts to be doubleton and – when they were – also made this slam. However, a tie for top got Poor Frank just enough points to beat Lucky Archie for that evening’s honors.

Later when he discussed the hands with Janet, he said, “I heard Lucky Archie was bragging about making a slam in a 4-2 fit.”

“He can brag all he wants, darling,” Janet said, “but let’s see him make 6NT on a squeeze the way you did. Why I bet he couldn’t even do that if he stood on his head.”

Poor Frank laughed. “No, but I would love to see him try to stand on his head. Although I have to admit, he plays most hands as if that’s exactly what he’s doing.”



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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXCIV: Two Bad Slams, Part I

The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXCIV: Two Bad Slams, Part I

By Ray Adams

Lucky Archie got in a bad slam just the other night at the local duplicate due to a sorting problem.


The trouble started when Lucky Archie had the five of clubs in with his spades. When he showed a probable void in the auction, North took a delayed preference to spades and Archie bid the spade slam.

When West led the nine of diamonds, the Lucky One saw his mistake and realized he had propelled himself into a nasty 4-2 fit at the six level. He won the opening lead with his ace and began drawing trumps, hoping someone had three to the jack and ten. But it was not to be, and after three rounds, West remained with the high trump. Archie now hoped to get some value out of his last trump and cashed the ace of hearts, then went to dummy with a diamond, noticing that East was out. He ruffed a small heart, glee appearing on his face when West’s king dropped after this opponent had previously followed with the queen on the previous heart lead.

He now played a club to the ace and cashed the queen of clubs. Next came the jack of hearts on which declarer tossed his losing club. Although West ruffed this, this opponent had nothing left but diamonds and Archie’s diamonds were all high, allowing him to claim this improbable slam.

Both opponents and several kibitzers complimented Lucky Archie on making this amazing slam.

“It was nothing,” he said, “Many players miss the value of a 4-2 fit, but experts like me are constantly using this overlooked fit to score high boards.”

This was the kind of comment that – had he heard it – would have sickened Poor Frank, but our hero was South on this hand at another table, soldiering away in another bad slam.

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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXCIII: It Pays to be Lucky

The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXCIII: It Pays to be Lucky

By Ray Adams

All bridge buffs favor skill, but hope for luck. But many times, it seems – at least to Poor Frank – that most of that luck falls on Lucky Archie’s side of the table.


In the auction, 2♣ was strong, artificial and forcing. North’s first pass showed that he either had a king or did not have a king, a king being one control. East must have wanted to throw up when Poor Frank forced him to bid, but Lucky Archie chose not to penalize his opponent even though readers can see that the carnage would have been bloody and horrible. Instead, the Lucky One took a shot at the vulnerable game in his long suit.

Poor Frank led the ace of spades and continued with the king, ruffed by declarer. Lucky Archie led the nine of clubs, playing dummy’s ten when Poor Frank ducked. This allowed declarer to take the winning heart finesse, the king of hearts being the only card of value that East held. Next came the queen of trumps, won by Poor Frank’s ace. Archie ruffed the spade continuation and played his last trump, finding luck when the suit divided 3-3. However, this meant that no one at the table had any more trumps.

Lucky Archie was now out of options. So he banged down his ace and king of diamonds, smiling quite broadly when Poor Frank’s queen dropped. He now led a small diamond to dummy’s jack, repeated the heart finesse and claimed. It was an extremely lucky game for Archie and allowed him to finish ahead of Poor Frank in first place that evening.

Later, when Poor Frank discussed that evening’s hands with Janet, he asked her, “Do you have any idea what he said to me when the hand was over?”

“Sorry, darling, you’ll have to enlighten me. I left my crystal ball at home tonight.”

“He said, ‘You shouldn’t have thrown your queen of diamonds under my king, Frank. Otherwise I would have been down three or four.’”

“Well, darling,” Janet said, “maybe it doesn’t pay to be lucky after all, if a condition of being lucky means one has to be possessed with inferior intelligence.”

“There is that,” Poor Frank laughed.

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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXCII: Poor Frank and the Four of Spades

The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXCII: Poor Frank and the Four of Spades

By Ray Adams

Even in his dreams, Poor Frank is unable to escape his chief nemesis Lucky Archie.



Poor Frank was peacefully sleeping when he found himself dreaming of the four of spades. This card was extremely angry and said, “I can’t even begin to tell you how upset I am with you. Why just the other day, you treated me as though I had no importance at all. You cavalierly threw me on the table as if I were garbage.”

Before the dream Poor Frank could respond, the four continued, “Then you complained you never got any cards. Your problem, Frank, is that you don’t know the value of a card when you hold it in your hand. So I’m going to teach you a lesson tonight.”

Then the small spot card diagrammed the above hand for Poor Frank. “Lucky Archie and his partner were experimenting with a system,” the little four said, “where an opening bid of 2♦ showed five clubs, short diamonds, and 4-4 or 4-3 in the majors. With his solid nine card diamond suit and an outside ace, North then took a shot at 6♦.”

“West led a trump,” the four said, “and you won your ace to shoot back the ten of spades. Lucky Archie won his ace, ruffed a club to dummy and ran all his diamonds. Do you know what happened then?”

Poor Frank clearly heard the sarcasm in the little four’s question, but he said, “I don’t think it matters what I do. There’s no squeeze and six diamonds is doomed to go down.”

“Well, Frank, this might have been true, had you but seen my value. But no, you threw me away on the run of the diamonds. Lucky Archie tossed all his spades and now West was squeezed in hearts and also in spades because of the presence in dummy of that miserable little three of spades. Now Lucky Archie, not seeing the king of spades, played dummy’s ace of hearts and a heart to his king, West’s queen dropping, and allowing him to make six diamonds. All because you discarded me like a bad habit.”

“But this hand never happened,” Poor Frank protested.

“Yes,” the four said,”but it will if you forget to treat me with the respect I deserve.”

“Never fear, little friend,” Poor Frank said. “there will always be a special place in my heart for you from here on out.”   Poor Frank kept his word and the four of spades served him well the rest of his bridge-playing days. And Poor Frank’s friends couldn’t help but notice that he played much better after that day that he ever had before.


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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXCI: Archie’s Knavery

The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXCI: Archie’s Knavery

By Ray Adams

Poor Frank was on the verge of making a tough slam just the other night at the local duplicate club when he ran into some knavery from his rival, Lucky Archie.



In the auction, 2♣ was artificial and forcing, 2 showed two controls (ace = 2, king = 1), and all other bids were natural. This was the last round of the evening, and Poor Frank knew if he made this slam that he would win that evening’s laurels.

Lucky Archie led the five of clubs, won by declarer in hand as East followed. Poor Frank studied the dummy and saw he needed a minor miracle to make this bold slam. One opponent had to hold ace/king third of spades and declarer needed three dummy entries, but he could only see two: the queen of clubs and the ace of hearts.

After some thought, Poor Frank hit upon a plan. He cashed another high trump, then led a small spade towards dummy. Lucky Archie rose smartly with the king and exited with his last trump, won with dummy’s queen. Lucky Archie’s nine dropped when Poor Frank ruffed a small spade.

Poor Frank now led his small heart towards dummy. His plan was to play Lucky Archie for the jack and finesse it by playing the ten. This would create his third entry if it worked. As readers can see, it would have, as the Lucky One was in possession the jack of hearts on this hand.

A funny thing happened to Poor Frank’s plan. Lucky Archie had not beaten Poor Frank all week and he was extremely nervous and had trouble holding onto this cards. When Poor Frank led the five of hearts, the jack dropped from Archie’s hand. Poor Frank was shattered. He had to win the ace, and even though he ruffed out Lucky Archie’s king of spades, there was no longer a way to get back to the good queen of spades. Poor Frank was down one and Lucky Archie was that evening’s victor.

“Partner, please forgive me,” Lucky Archie said to East after the hand was over. “I played the jack of hearts by mistake, although it didn’t matter. Poor Frank was always down one.”

Later, when Poor Frank discussed that evening’s hands with Janet, he said,, “How it hurts to get beat by someone who has no clue. An excellent player would have played that jack, but with Lucky Archie it can only be an accident. Sometimes I just can’t stand it.”

“Yes, I’m sorry, darling,” Janet said. “Things like that take away from the beauty of the game. Still you found a way to make a contract many players would have missed.”

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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXXXIX: The Wrong Contract



The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXXXIX: The Wrong Contract

By Ray Adams


Poor Frank found himself in the wrong contract just the other night at the local duplicate club, and his arch rival, Lucky Archie, looked to be the one who would benefit from this indiscretion.


The bidding on this hand definitely needs explaining. Lucky Archie had lately been experimenting with opening 1NT while holding a five card major as recommended by a bridge book he was reading. Red Dyeman, Poor Frank’s partner thought he and Frank had agreed that a two diamond bid over an opposing 1NT showed a single major, while Poor Frank thought it showed both. Red was correct, as Frank had forgotten he had agreed to play it Red’s way, rather than how he played it with Janet and other partners. Thus, Poor Frank picked his three card spade suit over the two card heart suit. Red realized Poor Frank had erred, but passed and hoped for the best.

Lucky Archie, obviously trying for a ruff, cashed the ace of hearts and exited a heart. This ran to Poor Frank’s queen. Poor Frank feared he might go down two or even three for a cold bottom, but saw some possibilities and gave nothing away in his demeanor. He led a diamond at trick two to dummy’s ace, then ruffed a diamond. Next came the ace of clubs as he threw a heart from dummy. He then led a small club, ruffing it in dummy as Lucky Archie played the king. Poor Frank now ruffed another diamond in hand. He led a sneaky ten of clubs and Archie tossed his king of diamonds. Declarer discarded dummy’s queen of diamonds.

Poor Frank looked at the tricks spread out before him: he had won seven tricks in a row. Could he possibly make one more? He now tried the jack of clubs. Lucky Archie thought about this and ruffed with the seven of spades. Poor Frank overruffed with the eight and suddenly he had made this improbable contract!   He now tried ruffing a heart with his nine of spades, but Lucky Archie overruffed and the defense soon took the rest of the tricks.

East’s eyes almost popped out of his head when he saw Lucky Archie’s cards.

“You mean we had all top five spades and the ace of hearts and we couldn’t set this contract?   Archie, this is the lowest point of your bridge career.”

“Well, I thought Frank had the king and jack, not you,” Archie said.

“Even so, you could have overruffed the dummy on the last club,” East said in a whiny voice.

Although this hand made a good story to tell to Janet later on, the result was only slightly above average for Poor Frank, as many NS pairs had made a two heart contract. But Frank still had one more board to play against his rival to see who would emerge victorious that evening.

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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXC:  A Gift for Poor Frank

The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXC:  A Gift for Poor Frank

     Poor Frank and Lucky Archie got into a bit of fireworks on the last hand of the evening.

By Ray Adams

     East had a tough decision to make at his last turn in this competitive auction.  Perhaps it was right to bid 5♣, although readers can see East probably would have lost two hearts and a trump.  East eventually decided to double, hoping to salvage something from this hand.

Poor Frank cashed the ace of spades, then shifted to a small heart that went to the queen, ten, and two.  East split his diamonds, playing the nine when the two was led from dummy.  Declarer won the ace as Poor Frank showed out.  Lucky Archie ruffed a club in dummy and led another diamond to the jack and king.  South now ruffed a club with dummy’s last trump.

Lucky Archie was always nervous when he played a doubled contract, so he now paused to let his heartbeat return to normal.  He saw he could not ruff a spade without allowing East to dink him in clubs and take over control of the trump suit.  He returned to hand with a heart to the ace.  The eight of diamonds went to East’s queen.  East cashed the ace of clubs and played the king of clubs.  But the Lucky One was able to ruff this and it now appeared as though he had all good tricks remaining.

Declarer’s last three cards were the king and four of hearts and the seven of diamonds.  Poor Frank had the king of spades and the eight and six of hearts.  Dummy held the queen and ten of spades, plus the jack of hearts.  East had the five of diamonds and the last two clubs.

When Archie led the seven of diamonds to pick up the last trump, Poor Frank had to throw a heart or the king of spades.  Clearly the king of spades couldn’t go, so he tossed a heart.  Dummy let go the ten of spades on this.  Archie knew he had not seen the high spade so he played the king of hearts, smothering dummy’s jack.  His last card was the four of hearts and somehow this was good and he had made his doubled contract and won that evening’s laurels.

“You shouldn’t have thrown that heart, Frank,” the Lucky One said.  “You could have set me.  That was a very bad discard.”

“Maybe you should buy me a book on discards for my next birthday, Archie,” Poor Frank said.  “That way you could face a higher level of competition and feel prouder of your victories.”

Later, Janet commented, “Well, you certainly won the battle of the wits, darling.  Although you always should when you go against that half wit.  He didn’t even realize he had you squeezed.  But if I were you, I would have a little talk with your partner.  If East hadn’t doubled, it’s highly unlikely that Archie could have ever played the trump suit the way he did.”

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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLXXXVII: The Legend Grows

The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLXXXVII: The Legend Grows

By Ray Adams

Lucky Archie’s local legend continued to grow when he had the following fantastic result at the local duplicate.

The bidding requires some explanation. After North reversed into two spades, Lucky Archie should probably have bid some number of hearts to show his great support for partner’s opening bid suit. Instead, he bid three diamonds. Red Dyeman, his partner, later stated that he now thought Archie had a 6-5 hand in the minors and Red supported diamonds. Lucky Archie never explained his bids, but he must have forgotten Red’s opening bid. Perhaps he intended the five club bid to be a cuebid. Certainly, Red meant for his six club bid to be a cuebid, as he said after the hand was over.   Poor Frank now doubled, which asked for his partner to lead dummy’s first bid suit, or hearts. Lucky Archie passed, possibly figuring his partner would clarify the situation. Red then made an SOS redouble, but Lucky Archie took this to be the real thing and passed. So the Lucky One found himself in yet another improbable contract, as he played in his 4-0 fit rather than the partnership’s 6-4 fit!

West led the ten of diamonds, won by dummy’s ace. Lucky Archie led a spade to his ace and cashed his four top clubs, sluffing hearts from dummy and leaving West with the last trump. He returned to dummy with the king of diamonds and ran the spades. He came back to hand with the queen of diamonds and cashed the jack of diamonds. He now had twelve tricks lined up in front of him. West ruffed Poor Frank’s ace of hearts at trick thirteen, but the Lucky One had done it again.

“Why did you double, Frankie?” Lucky Archie asked Poor Frank as they agreed on the score.

“I just wanted my partner to lead a heart,” was the reply.

“My advice would be to never ask a partner to lead a suit he doesn’t have,” Archie said.

“Never ask a partner to lead a suit he doesn’t have,” Poor Frank said in a whiny voice, imitating Lucky Archie later that evening as he and Janet discussed the hands.

Janet laughed and said, “Well, you can’t say he gave you bad advice, darling. Although it doesn’t seem fair that you can’t call on the impossible to beat the improbable.”

“No,” Frank said, “it appears as though I need to call on the lucky to beat the ludicrous.”



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