The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part LI: A Touch of Strange
By Ray Adams
Poor Frank had to take a very strange finesse just the other night at the local duplicate club. This is how it all happened:
In the auction, 5♥ showed two aces (the king of trumps being one ace) without the queen of trumps. Lucky Archie led the queen of hearts and, as Poor Frank surveyed the dummy, he wished that North had the king of diamonds instead of the queen. As it was, the slam was very iffy, but he saw a chance if trumps broke 2-2 and clubs were 4-3, and his rival held the king of diamonds.
He won the ace of hearts and led his club to dummy’s ace. He ruffed a club with the eight, then cashed the king of trumps. When East played the ten, Frank feared that trumps were splitting 3-1, not the hoped for 2-2, but he still saw an extra shot. He led a small diamond towards the queen, Archie rising with the king to return a heart. Poor Frank won his king and crossed to dummy’s queen of diamonds. He ruffed another club and saw that he could establish the suit when both opponents followed.
Now came the key play of the hand. He led his two of trumps, and when Lucky Archie played the three without even thinking about it, he inserted dummy’s six. He expelled his breath when East tossed a diamond on this card. He then ruffed dummy’s penultimate club high, led a trump to the ace, picking up his rival’s last trump and claimed as he tossed his losing heart on the last club.
“Congratulations, Frank,” Archie said. “But that sure was a weird finesse of my seven of trumps.”
“Archie, you dolt,” East yelled across the table, “all you had to do was play your seven when he led his deuce. He would have been down like a submarine!”
“That would have been a strange play,” Archie said.
No one knew if it was the strange play that did occur or the strange play that did not occur, but it was certainly strange to see Poor Frank grinning as broadly as Lucky Archie usually did.