The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part LXXXIII: Last Ruff and Last Laugh
By Ray Adams
Not all bridge buffs make the right lead all the time and Poor Frank is no exception. But sometimes a player can overcome a bad lead and still prevail. Poor Frank found himself on the spot when he was called upon to make the opening lead against his rival, Lucky Archie, just the other night at the local duplicate club:
Reckless bidding by Lucky Archie soon propelled him into a small slam in spades missing two cashing aces. The auction seemed to call for a lead of the unbid suit – hearts – but Poor Frank was
used to his rival’s bidding and knew the Lucky One must be well fortified in that suit to bid the slam. A trump did not seem right, leaving him a choice between clubs and diamonds. His holdings in both suits were definitely lead-worthy, diamonds being a solid sequence and clubs semi-solid. After some thought, he placed the queen of clubs on the table, having decided to attack dummy’s second suit.
Lucky Archie immediately won the ace of clubs, then cashed the king of clubs, tossing his lone diamond, while laughing and smirking at Poor Frank as he did so.
“Bad lead, Frankie baby,” he said. Poor Frank felt his guts wrench as they had many other times when he had been the victim of his rival’s luck.
Archie then cashed the ace of hearts, led a heart to his king and ruffed a heart as Poor Frank followed with the six, nine, and ten. When declarer subsequently led a trump from dummy, Jack Leeder, Poor Frank’s partner of the evening, came alive. Jack had been silently cursing himself the entire hand for not having made some kind of lead-directing double that would have directed Poor Frank to the diamond lead. But Jack had watched Frank’s play of the hearts and thought his partner might be void now and if he also had another trump, then things might be set right.
Jack put his thinking into action and rose with his ace of spades, immediately putting a heart on the table. Lucky Archie had to follow with his queen and Poor Frank ruffed this with his last trump to put the contract down one.
“He who ruffs last, laughs best,” he said to his rival with a smile on his face.
Lucky Archie shook his head, knowing Jack’s fine play and his own reckless bidding had sealed his fate in the overall picture that fine evening.