The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part XVIII: Poor Frank’s Dangerous Finesse
By Ray Adams
Poor Frank had an interesting play problem just the other night at the local duplicate club. As usual, the outcome of the hand would determine that evening’s winner:Dealer: South North South West North East Vulnerable: NS ♠ 9 1♠ Pass 1NT 2♥ ♥ K9 3♦ 4♥ 5♦ Dbl. ♦ K976 All pass. ♣ J86542 West (Archie) East ♠ QJ5 ♠ AK76 ♥ J10543 ♥ AQ876 ♦1084 ♦ 5 ♣ 97 ♣ K103 South (Poor Frank) ♠ 108432 ♥ 2 ♦ AQJ32 ♣ AQ
In the auction, North’s 1NT was forcing. Lucky Archie led the ♥J to the king, ace, and two. East cashed the ♠K, then tried the ♥Q, ruffed by declarer with the deuce. Poor Frank could see that his only hope was to establish dummy’s clubs. But he appeared to lack the entries to do so.
Frank cashed the ace of diamonds, then led the three, playing dummy’s nine when Archie followed with the eight. When Poor Frank opened his eyes, he saw that the nine had held, East having sluffed a heart. Next came a small club to the queen. This also took the trick. He cashed the ♣A. and returned to dummy by overtaking his ♦J with the king, drawing the last trump in the process. He then ruffed a club to establish the suit and returned to the good dummy by trumping a spade.
“What a strange and dangerous finesse, Frank,” Archie said to his rival. “You certainly didn’t need to finesse my ten of diamonds, did you? It was falling anyway.”
Poor Frank only smiled, but East had something to say.
“Archie you dolt,” his partner said. “If you had played your ten when Frank led a low diamond, he couldn’t have made this stupid contract.”
“But why would I play a ten instead of an eight when it wouldn’t even win the trick?”
East could only sputter at this point, while the kibitzers patted Poor Frank on the back and congratulated him.