The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part XLVII: Lucky Archie and the Ten of Spades
By Ray Adams
Poor Frank was in excellent position to beat Lucky Archie just the other night at the local duplicate club. All he needed was an average result on the last board. This appeared to be in the cards when he reached a routine 7NT contract.
In the auction, 2♠ showed 3 controls, an ace being two and a king one. The rebid of 2NT showed a balanced 23-24 count, and 3♦ was a transfer to hearts. 5NT was quantitative, asking Poor Frank to bid the grand slam with a maximum.
If readers carefully study the North/South hands, they will see that there are twelve top tricks available. There are two chances for a thirteenth trick: spades could divide 3-3, or the club finesse could work. An expert declarer like Poor Frank would surely test spades first, then try the club finesse if that suit failed to break. Of course, there are also squeeze possibilities. On this hand, all possibilities were in declarer’s favor. Therefore, there should have been no problem making the contract. Of course, this analysis did not take Lucky Archie into account.
The Lucky One has missorted his hand and thought the ten of clubs was the ten of spades. Therefore he led the jack of spades. Poor Frank won the king and ran dummy’s hearts. East sluffed two clubs and a diamond, while Lucky Archie threw two diamonds. Poor Frank considered his choices: a 3-3 spade split was 34%, while the club finesse was 50%. He could combine these chances for a much higher percentage, but the opening lead caused him to think there was a better chance. Lucky Archie’s lead of the jack of spades surely came from a jack/ten combination. Therefore, the finesse for the ten of spades was close to a 100% possibility.
Poor Frank came to hand with the queen of spades and led a low spade. When Lucky Archie played the eight, Poor Frank inserted dummy’s nine. East won the ten as Poor Frank’s face and spirits both dropped. Poor Frank was down one on a hand in which even the weakest player in the field had no trouble making thirteen tricks. As a result, Lucky Archie was that evening’s winner.
As Poor Frank sat in shock at the table, cradling his face in his hands, Lucky Archie attempted to console him. “Don’t feel so bad, Frank,” he said. “I thought I had the ten of spades, too.”