The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part LXXIII: Off-shape Double Backfires
By Ray Adams
The cards were hot again just the other night at the local duplicate club. Poor Frank needed a top result on the last board if he were to have any chance of beating Lucky Archie. This is the fateful hand which turned up:
Poor Frank reached 6♦on the bidding shown as Lucky Archie took advantage of the vulnerability to stick in an off-shape double of 1♠. The auction seemed to call for a heart lead, but West put a small diamond on the table, perhaps hoping to keep South from ruffing the spades good.
Poor Frank won in hand with the nine and cashed the king and ace of spades. He ruffed a spade with the ten as West threw a club. He returned to dummy with the king of diamonds to the ace. He then ruffed another spade with his queen of trumps, establishing dummy’s jack of spades in the process. West tossed a club on this trick.
Declarer crossed to dummy with a club to the king as West’s ten fell. He then drew trumps with dummy’s two top diamonds. By this time, Frank had figured out that Archie had doubled 1♠ while holding four spades and one diamond. Poor Frank intuited that Archie’s heart and club suits must therefore be divided 4-4 for his double to make any sense. If this was the case, poor Archie was in trouble.
Lucky Archie looked dismayed as Frank played dummy’s high diamonds. Eventually, he threw the jack and queen of hearts, protecting his queen of clubs. Poor Frank also tossed two hearts. The jack of spades stuck it right to Lucky Archie. He did not want to toss his ace of hearts, so he threw a small club instead. Poor Frank read the position exactly and discarded the king of hearts. He then took the club finesse and was soon claiming seven for a top board.
“Why couldn’t you have led a heart?” Archie yelled to his partner.
“How can you make a takeout double and not even take one trick?” West responded. “Maybe you should learn to keep your big mouth shut.”
Poor Frank soaked it all in, carefully rehearsing the story he would tell to Janet later that evening.