The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part XLVIII: The Wicked Web
By Ray Adams
Poor Frank’s analytical abilities were put to the test just the other night at the local duplicate club. This was the fateful hand:
In the auction, 3♦ was a mini-splinter, showing four card heart support, shortness in diamonds, and less than an opening hand. 4♣ and 5♦ were cuebids, and North bid 6♥ based on the good holding in spades.
West led the king of diamonds, and a quick survey of dummy showed Poor Frank he was lucky to have escaped the club lead and that the bold slam had a chance if he could find a favorable position in spades. He won his ace of diamonds and immediately ruffed a diamond in dummy. He led a low spade to the nine, jack, and four. Declarer then ruffed his last diamond in dummy and drew trumps in three rounds, ending in hand.
Poor Frank thought about the play in spades. He still had to lose the ace of spades and the possible club loser loomed gloomily on the horizon. The early spade play indicated that Lucky Archie was the opponent most likely to hold the ace. The question was: Had he started with A9 doubleton or A109? Poor Frank remembered seeing his rival reading a book on bridge deception earlier in the week. It had been How to Deceive Everyone at the Table, Even Yourself by Sly Wiley Chikanovich, a well-known American bridge writer of South Slavic descent. Luckily, this book was one of Poor Frank’s favorites, and he had read it at least five times.
He knew that Chikanovich had written that from A109, the deceptive ten should be played when a low card was led from dummy, while with A9X, the nine would have been played. Therefore, Poor Frank felt absolutely safe in playing West for the ten of spades. He led a small spade and when West followed with the five, Poor Frank inserted dummy’s eight. Lucky Archie’s ace popped up and declarer quickly claimed, as the small club would now disappear on dummy’s queen of spades.
“That was a great play in spades,” Lucky Archie said to his rival after the hand was over.
“Sham on you, Archie,” Poor Frank replied. “I will not be bamboozled by your Machiavellian stratagems. Imagine trying to deceive me by playing that nine of spades!”
Lucky Archie was puzzled by this comment. Should he have played the ace instead? He would have to re-read his Chikanovich again very soon.