The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXXXVI: An Unlikely Sacrifice
By Ray Adams
Poor Frank was on one of the best winning streaks of his life. He had finished first in the local duplicate club eight times in a row, with his chief rival, Lucky Archie placing second in six of those wins. Thus, it came as no surprise that the Lucky One was smarting for a win and was willing to take the most desperate of measures to do so. It was the last hand of the night and Poor Frank had a slight lead.
The auction started calmly, giving no indication of the fireworks to follow. East passed, Lucky Archie passed, and Poor Frank took a shot at the spade game, figuring that with a passed partner, there was no way slam was possible. This probably should have ended the auction and Red Dyeman, Archie’s partner, passed, as did East. But now the Lucky one went into action.
Most readers would probably pass in this position with the South hand, along with approximately 99 out of 100 other bridge players. However, Lucky Archie could no longer stand watching Poor Frank receive the congratulations of his peers after the game, while they only said, “Better luck next time, Archie.” No, he certainly did not want to become known as “Tough Luck Archie.” That would never do. So the Lucky One found an incredible bid on his two queens and one jack and no long suit. The five club card hit the table.
Poor Frank was too stunned by this bid to do anything and passed, as did Red. East quickly doubled. Just as quickly, Lucky Archie redoubled. Looking at his hand after the game, Poor Frank decided this must have been an SOS redouble, asking North to start bidding his long suits up the line until the pair found a fit. However, with five clubs, a singleton spade and a relatively good hand, Red simply passed and hoped for the best.
Poor Frank started with the ace of spades, but with the queen of hearts and king of diamonds in the slot, the defense could only take four tricks. This was down two, for plus 600 to Poor Frank and partner. However, since every other EW had been either plus 620 or plus 650, this was an absolute goose egg for Poor Frank and allowed Lucky Archie to slide by him and finish first that evening.
Later, as he and Janet discussed that evening’s events, Poor Frank lamented his fate.
“I don’t even blame my partner for not bidding five spades, which would probably have made,”
Poor Frank said. “It’s just the weirdest zero I’ve ever gotten in my life. Only a player caught in the throes of despair, desperation, and distress would bid like that on such hopeless cards.”
Janet patted Frank’s hand in sympathy and said, “Well, darling, at least your alliteration is much, much better than Archie’s bidding.”