The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part LVII: Poor Frank Fights the Odds
By Ray Adams
Bridge buffs know that many hands offer alternate lines of play. Frequently, the declarer’s choice results from a quick analysis of the odds. However, as the following hand shows, the odds may not always be the decisive factor.
In the auction, 2NT was a forcing raise in hearts, 4♥ showed a minimum opener, and 5♠ showed two aces plus the queen of trumps, the king of trumps being counted as one ace. Lucky Archie led the jack of diamonds. Poor Frank won dummy’s ace and drew trumps in two rounds. He saw he could easily lose a club and a spade to go down.
When he tested the diamonds, they failed to split 3-3, so he ruffed dummy’s last diamond and advanced a spade. When Lucky Archie played low, Poor Frank inserted the ten. This held and he soon claimed his small slam.
“Archie, you absolute dolt!” Ace Banghor yelled across the table. “Why didn’t you play your jack to force dummy’s ace?”
“It wouldn’t have mattered, Ace,” Poor Frank said. “Because then the ten would have forced the king and dummy’s losing club would have gone on my queen of spades.”
“You mean you were playing Lucky Archie for both the jack and the king of spades?” Ace said. “That’s very poor odds, Frank.”
“Worse than playing for a king to be doubleton, Ace?” Poor Frank’s comment was a reference to a recent hand Lucky Archie had played successfully. (Readers may review this hand. It was Poor Frank, Part LVI: A Tale of Two Declarers.)
Ace only shook his head as he left the table.
Janet had been kibitzing Poor Frank this evening and she turned to him after this exchange.
“Is Ace right, darling? Are you playing against the odds?”
“You have to understand something, Janet dearest,” Poor Frank said. “It’s much more satisfying to force Archie into a mistake than to just woodenly play the odds.”