The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXVII: Lucky Archie’s Merrimac Coup
By Ray Adams
Poor Frank and Lucky Archie were in a close fight for first place just the other night at the local duplicate club. As usual, it all came down to one crucial hand:
In the auction, three diamonds showed at least a five card diamond suit plus useful values that included an ace or a king. The subsequent four club bid confirmed the ace of clubs. Armed with this knowledge, Poor Frank confidently bid six hearts. Lucky Archie, looking at his ace and king of spades, decided Poor Frank had made a mistake, and to show his contempt for his rival, doubled.
The Lucky One started the defensive attack by leading his ace of spades. Flushed with success when this took the trick, Archie reached for the king of spades so he could quickly put an end to Poor Frank’s misery. But instead, he grabbed the wrong black king and the club monarch landed face up on the table.
Poor Frank’s heart skipped a beat when he saw this card. Lucky Archie had just executed a Merrimac Coup, but did he really know what he was doing? Somehow, Poor Frank doubted it. The play of the club king had removed Poor Frank’s late entry to dummy so he was now unable to run dummy’s diamond suit after drawing trumps. Poor Frank played it out, but East saved his ten of clubs and even though Lucky Archie threw away his top clubs to hold onto the useless king of spades, Poor Frank was still down one and the Lucky One had somehow won again.
Later, when he was discussing that evening’s hands with Janet, Poor Frank said. “I know Lucky Archie had no idea what he was doing. He simply pulled the wrong card and it was the only one that could have sunk me!”
“I’m sure you’re right, darling,” Janet said. “I doubt if Archie even knows the name for what he did.”
“You’ve got that right, Janet,” Poor Frank said. “After the hand was over, I asked him, ‘Archie, do you know what a Merrimac Coup is?’ His answer was, ‘Don’t be insulting, Frank. Of course I do. I know my Civil War history.’”
“He actually said that?” Janet said, laughing. “Well, Frank, I think we have to monitor this situation before it gets out of hand.”
Poor Frank smiled, amazed at how Janet could always make him feel good even when Lucky Archie had gotten the best of him.