The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part LX: A Ruff Too Far
By Ray Adams
Lucky Archie made an uncanny discard just the other night at the local duplicate club. This was the incredible hand:
In the auction, 4♥ was a cue-bid showing spade support by partnership agreement. West led the nine of diamonds, taken by South’s ace. Poor Frank was not confident of making this contract, as he appeared to have at least two club losers. He studied the hand and tried to imagine a distribution that would allow him to bring home twelve tricks. After some thought, he came to the conclusion that if his right hand opponent had the singleton ace of clubs, he could strip the hand and force Lucky Archie to give him a ruff and a sluff and triumph that way.
Declarer drew trumps in three rounds, then cashed the king of diamonds, tossing a club from dummy. He next cashed the king of hearts and led to the ace. The next step would be to ruff dummy’s last heart, then throw Archie in with his presumed singleton ace.
Unfortunately for Poor Frank, a funny thing happened on the way to six spades. As he led dummy’s last heart, the ace of clubs fell from Lucky Archie’s hand, causing Poor Frank to almost have a heart attack.
“Oh, doggone it,” Archie said. “I meant to throw a diamond.”
“Oh, I’m sure it was just a mechanical error,” Poor Frank said. “You can certainly correct it.”
“Oh no he can’t, Frank,” Red Dyeman, Lucky Archie’s partner, said. “You know the rules. If he pulls a wrong card from the bidding box, that’s a mechanical error that can be corrected, while a card that falls to the table has to stay.”
Poor Frank argued for two more minutes with Red, but his opponent was unwavering – the ace of clubs was a played card.
It did not take Poor Frank long to concede down one as he now had to lose two clubs to the adamant Red. The local bridge buffs were soon congratulating Lucky Archie, especially when Red told them about his partner’s sensational discard.
“It was the only way to set the slam,” Red said to an admiring crowd.
Poor Frank’s stomach was churning and making noises like a broken toilet. He had just analyzed the hand and realized that if he had stopped to count Lucky Archie’s hand, he would have known that he did not need to ruff dummy’s last heart. At that point, a club play would have given him the contract.