The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part LXIII: A Coup in Vain
By Ray Adams
Poor Frank and three members of his club were in Las Vegas recently to play in KO events in the summer regional. Normally, Poor Frank absolutely refused to play on the same team as Lucky Archie, but the Lucky One had been the only bridge player available to complete the team. Thus, Poor Frank had bit the bullet and welcomed Archie to the team. They were playing a tough foursome in Bracket II when the following hand came up:
The auction was typical of the aggressive bidding found in KO matches where vulnerable games mean so much on the road to victory. Poor Frank led the eight of diamonds to partner’s king and declarer’s queen. East shifted to a heart, taken by South’s ace. Next came dummy’s two clubs, a diamond ruff, and the king of clubs to sluff dummy’s last heart. Declarer then led the queen of trumps, taken by Poor Frank’s ace as East showed out. Poor Frank exited with the king of hearts, forcing dummy to trump.
South ruffed a diamond with the king of trumps, then led a low spade, inserting dummy’s eight when Poor Frank followed with the deuce. When declarer came off the board with another diamond, she ruffed with the nine of spades. Poor Frank thought about his defense carefully. He overruffed with the ten, then led the queen of hearts, forcing declarer to ruff with dummy’s jack. Declarer now had the top trump and the good jack of clubs, and Poor Frank had a small heart and the three of trumps. With the lead in the dummy, he had to score his small trump en passant to set this bold game contract.
“Wonder of wonders,” Poor Frank thought to himself. “I just executed a defensive coup en passant. What an achievement. This will surely be the highlight of the tournament for me and most likely a 12 imp swing, too.”
When they were comparing scores, Poor Frank announced, “Plus 100 on board 15.”
“Push,” Lucky Archie said.
“Push? How did they set it?”
“West led the king of hearts. Now they had a heart and a diamond in the bag plus two trump tricks I couldn’t do anything about. Isn’t that what you led, Frank?”
Poor Frank could feel his heart pounding and his stomach churning. Had it just been a coup in vain then?
“Plus 460 on 16,” Lucky Archie said, moving on.
“Yeah, they found the club slam at our table,” Frank said.