The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXIV: Return of the Frankinator
By Ray Adams
Poor Frank had recently gained the nickname of the “Frankinator” for his magnificent play of a tough 7NT contract. In fact, his play had been so brilliant that the kibitzers had gotten into a very serious altercation when they argued which type of squeeze play he had employed to bring the challenging contract home. It was not long before the Frankinator was in action again.
In the auction, five clubs showed one or four aces, the king of diamonds being counted as one ace. Five hearts showed two of the remaining kings. When North bid 7NT, he turned to his partner, Poor Frank, and said, “You are the Frankinator. I am certain if there’s any squeeze possible on this hand, you’ll find it.”
Poor Frank was absolutely stunned to hear these words. What had happened to “Poor Frank”?” Did he now have to live up to his new reputation on every hand that smelled even slightly like it might produce a grand slam? He shook his head. Being the Frankinator could end up being much worse than being Poor Frank.
West led the four of spades, won by dummy’s ace. A long study of the hand showed Frank that even if diamonds split 3-2, he still only had eleven top tricks. If he had been in 6NT, he could have checked on a possible 4-3 club split, given up a club, and claimed 12 tricks without even breathing hard. But to take all 13 tricks? That was something entirely different.
He finally decided he had no chance whatsoever unless East had the king of hearts. He checked on this right away, leading a low heart from dummy at trick two. When he played the queen and it held, he now had 12 tricks. Maybe there actually was a squeeze and he could once again be the Frankinator.
He played the ace of diamonds, then unblocked the king of clubs. The subsequent play of the queen of diamonds revealed that the suit was splitting 3-2. He then cashed the ace and queen of clubs, tossing spades from dummy. Both opponents followed, meaning one opponent still had the high club.
Poor Frank now returned to dummy with the king of diamonds. An interesting end position had been reached:
When Poor Frank cashed dummy’s two small diamonds, East threw the queen of spades and one small heart. Poor Frank discarded a small club and a small heart. West had to hold onto a spade guard and thus tossed only one spade and the nine of hearts. When declarer subsequently played dummy’s king of spades, East had to hold onto the jack of clubs and let go of a small heart. Poor Frank thought he had seen enough hearts thrown that he was able to let go of his eight of clubs on this trick. West had already been squeezed and safely followed with the nine of spades.
So now, when Poor Frank led dummy’s last heart, East’s king popped, Poor Frank won his ace as West’s jack showed up and declarer’s ten of hearts took the thirteenth trick.
“Oh, my God,” North said, “that was brilliant. You truly are the Frankinator if you can bring home a difficult slam like that. Oh, wow, I’ll never stop at six again when I play with you.”
Poor Frank winced as he heard these words. Both grand slams he had made as the so-called Frankinator had depended on finesses and difficult squeezes. If he had to make contracts that were so far against the odds every time he sat down at the bridge table, it would surely not be long before everyone went back to calling him Poor Frank. In fact, as he sat there, half listening to the other bridge buffs congratulating him, he thought he could see his future. Yes, players would sit around reminiscing about the “good old days.” “Poor Frank,” they would say, “he was once called the Frankinator. There wasn’t a squeeze he couldn’t find. There was no grand slam that too tough for him. But then he fell on hard days. Now he can barely execute an endplay, and even finesses just don’t seem to come his way anymore. Yes, it’s just a doggone shame what happened to him. Well, at least he was good once.”
As he thought this, a lonely tear rolled down Poor Frank’s cheek.