The scores were close just the other night at the local duplicate club. Poor Frank and Lucky Archie were in a dead heat when they faced each other on the last round. This was a key board:
Dealer: South North South West North East Vulnerable: EW ♠ AKJ8762 1♣ Pass 1♠ Pass ♥ K43 2♦ Pass 3♠ Pass ♦ J3 4NT Pass 5♥ Pass ♣ 3 5NT Pass 6♥ Pass West (Archie) East 7NT All pass. ♠ Q93 ♠ 54 ♥ 1096 ♥ Q8752 ♦ K10987 ♦ 652 ♣ J7 ♣ 852 South (Poor Frank) ♠ 10 ♥ AJ ♦ AQ4 ♣ AKQ10964
In the auction, 5NT showed two controls, the king of spades being considered a control. 5♥ showed the king of hearts and denied the king of diamonds. Poor Frank could count 12 top tricks and decided to bid the grand slam, hoping that a squeeze might materialize.
Lucky Archie made the diabolical lead of the ♠9, hoping that Poor Frank would not jeopardize his slam on a finesse at trick one. The Lucky One’s plan was to later collect the king of diamonds to set this contract.
Poor Frank won dummy’s ace and began the club run. He carefully watched the opponents’ discards, becoming convinced that Lucky Archie was protecting the ♠Q and the ♦K. This induced him to give up on establishing an extra trick in hearts, as he instead sluffed four spades, one diamond, and one heart from dummy. After the clubs were done, he cashed the ace of hearts and led the jack to dummy’s king. Lucky Archie threw the ten of diamonds on this card. When declarer cashed the king of spades, the queen failed to drop, so he led a diamond to his ace. Archie’s king materialized and declarer’s queen of diamonds took the thirteenth trick.
When the traveler was opened, the result turned out to be dead average. Every other South player in the room had bid and made 7NT. Poor Frank was unnerved by this news. He had played the hand so skillfully that it was a complete shock to find that his expertise had only led to an average result. He played so badly on the next two boards that Lucky Archie won that evening’s event.
After the game, Poor Frank queried the other South players how they made 7NT. It turned out that every other West had led the ten of hearts, immediately presenting declarer with the thirteenth trick. Poor Frank had been the only declarer to raise a sweat while playing the hand.