The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part XXI: An Impossible Slam
By Ray Adams
Poor Frank was on the verge of winning the local duplicate game just the other night when he found himself in an impossible slam contract on the very last board.
Dealer: East North East South West North Vulnerable: EW ♠ AKQ8 3♥ 4♦ Pass 4♥ ♥ 10 Dbl. 6♦ All pass. ♦ Q972 ♣ J974 West East (Lucky Archie) ♠ J9742 ♠ 1053 ♥ J5 ♥ KQ98543 ♦ 83 ♦ 54 ♣ K1063 ♣ A South (Poor Frank) ♠ 6 ♥ A72 ♦ AKJ106 ♣ Q852
In the auction, 4H was a cuebid agreeing diamonds and showing shortness in hearts. West led the jack of hearts and Poor Frank was surely appalled when the dummy came down to reveal that the pair was missing the ace and king of clubs. This clearly meant that the chances of a favorable outcome were close to zero. But Poor Frank labored on.
He won his ace and ruffed a heart in dummy. Declarer returned to hand with a trump and ruffed his last heart in the dummy. The queen of diamonds picked up the last enemy trump. There was no putting off the inevitable so Poor Frank led a club from dummy. Lucky Archie won his ace and, without the slightest pause for thought, returned a heart. Poor Frank now saw he had a glimmer of hope in what had once appeared to be a tunnel of dark doom and despair.
He ruffed the heart return and ran his remaining trumps, sluffing clubs from the dummy. As declarer cashed his last trump, West had an impossible decision to make: sluff his king of clubs or unguard the spades. He finally tossed the king, hoping Lucky Archie held the queen. But Poor Frank now produced this card and claimed this impossible slam.
“Archie, you dolt,” an angry West yelled across the table. “All you had to do was return a spade to break up the squeeze.”
“Return a spade into the ace, king, queen, when I can force him with a heart? You must think I’m crazy,” Lucky Archie retorted.
As the two partners squabbled, Poor Frank suddenly realized that all the local bridge buffs were congratulating him and not Lucky Archie.