The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part XCV: The Telltale Discard
By Ray Adams
Poor Frank and Lucky Archie were at it again just the other night at the local duplicate club. The two squared off against each other on the last round and that evening’s winner would be determined by the outcome of the following exciting slam hand:
Since he and partner were not playing puppet Stayman, Poor Frank chose to open his 22 point hand one spade only. But when partner jumped to game, he figured he must have an excellent chance at slam and he bid it.
West led the ten of clubs. As he studied dummy, declarer realized he may have bid a level too high. Somehow he would have to avoid losing two diamonds. It did not seem possible, but Poor Frank was a trooper and he went about his business in a workman-like manner.
He won the opening lead in hand, then drew two rounds of trump just for practice. West tossed a heart on this, Lucky Archie a club. He then cashed the ace of hearts and ruffed a heart in dummy. Next came the queen of clubs and finally, the jack of clubs to dummy’s king. Lucky Archie violently played the ten of diamonds on this card.
Poor Frank looked at this card with interest. This certainly gave him new hope in the diamond suit. He played a low diamond and his rival followed with the deuce. Poor Frank eyed this for five seconds, then played the king, which held. He now led another diamond. West won the queen, but had to exit with a club or a heart, giving Poor Frank a ruff and a sluff and allowing him to make this bold slam.
“Archie, you dolt,” West yelled at his partner after the hand was over. “What was that ten of diamonds all about?”
“It was a signal,” Archie said. “Aren’t you supposed to signal your partner when you have a high card in the suit?”
“Use some sense,” West said. “Not when it costs the contract. If you only hold on to that ten, I can toss my queen under declarer’s king and now you’re sitting over dummy’s jack with your ace and ten. You left me no winning option.”
“Of course I did,” Archie said. “When you win your queen, all you have to do is return a diamond to my ace – which my discard told you I have. Duh!. And that would have set poor Frankie baby.”
Meanwhile, poor Frankie baby was barely able to contain his extreme mirth as he listened to his opponents’ argument. He managed to do so only by imagining how hard he and Janet would laugh later when he told her this story.