The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXLI: A Worthless Diamond
By Ray Adams
Poor Frank was in a very tough contract the other night and his chances of making it were slim – unless he could somehow enlist the aid of one of his opponents. Luckily for him, that opponent happened to be Lucky Archie.
Poor Frank’s partner, Red Dyeman, must have been trying to get a top board against Lucky Archie, as he certainly bid his 16 high card points to the hilt. Red must have been figuring the hearts would run and Poor Frank would then come up with a minor miracle to make the pushy small slam.
West led the seven of spades, covered by the queen, king, and won by Poor Frank with the ace. Declarer immediately went to work on the hearts. Lucky Archie held off until the second round, then exited with his third heart, as West pitched a spade. Poor Frank now ran dummy’s last two hearts, tossing a spade and a small diamond. Lucky Archie threw a club on the first heart, then thought for about two seconds when the last one was led, and casually threw a small diamond. West, meanwhile let go of two clubs.
Poor Frank wondered what the spade situation was and how he might come up with a twelfth trick. It looked hopeless, but maybe something would develop if he played off his winners. He started by cashing the jack of spades and took great notice when Lucky Archie played the ten. Could West have led the seven of spades from a five card holding topped by the nine? And if so, might West have both the queen and jack of diamonds as suggested by Lucky Archie’s discard of a low diamond? Poor Frank smiled to himself. Maybe, just maybe, he could justify Red’s extremely aggressive bidding.
Declarer now cashed the ace of clubs and led a club to his king. West had to toss a spade on this card, but when Poor Frank subsequently cashed the queen of clubs, West was faced with a terrible dilemma: if he let go the nine of spades, dummy’s eight would be good, while if he threw a diamond, Poor Frank’s nine of diamonds would take the twelfth trick. Poor Frank soon claimed this improbable small slam for what was a cold top board that allowed him to claim that evening’s laurels.
“Archie, you unthinking clod!” West said after the hand was over. “Why, oh why, did you throw away that small diamond?”
“It was a totally worthless card,” Archie replied. “I only had three to the ten.”
“Yes, but..” West started, then must have realized that his partner was too dense to understand that by throwing a “worthless diamond,” he had subjected his partner to a very real squeeze.
After the game, when Poor Frank was telling Janet about this hand, he said, “I don’t think Lucky Archie ever understood the importance of holding on to his diamonds. He kept saying, ‘I only had three to the ten, what good was that going to do?”
Janet laughed that throaty laugh that Frank loved so much and said, “The important thing was that you noticed what he had done and took advantage of it. But wait, wasn’t it just a week ago that Archie was pontificating on how great he was that he had made an opening lead from three diamonds to the ten?”
“It certainly was,” Poor Frank said. “I guess the value of three to the ten is as flexible as the price of oil.”