The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXLII: Negotiating the Mine Field
By Ray Adams
Poor Frank and Lucky Archie were at it again just the other night at the local duplicate club. It all came down to the last board of the night.
Poor Frank was somewhat surprised to see Red’s dummy after Lucky Archie led the jack of clubs. He thought Red’s hand rated a simple boost to 2♠ instead of a limit raise. Still, the contract had some play. The jack of clubs certainly looked like a singleton, although that would mean East had started with six clubs. Was that possible on the actual auction?
At any rate, if Poor Frank could not ruff two clubs in dummy, then he needed to get rid of his small heart as soon as possible. At trick two, he led a diamond and Archie took his ace. Archie thought for about three seconds and returned a small diamond at trick three. Poor Frank wasn’t fooled. Surely East had only one diamond also. He played the eight and overruffed East’s seven of spades with the nine.
Poor Frank now played the queen of spades, hoping that East had started with two trumps. But Lucky Archie took his ace as East showed out, pitching a club. Archie now switched to a heart to dummy’s nine, East’s jack, and declarer’s ace. Poor Frank now had to play a trump to dummy to pitch a heart on the king of diamonds.
It was time to play the clubs, but Poor Frank was still worried Archie’s lead was a singleton. Thus, he led a club from dummy and ducked East’s ten. When East comprehended that he had won this trick, he tried to cash a heart, but Poor Frank ruffed. Declarer then ruffed his last small club in dummy, ruffed a diamond small, cashed his ten of trumps, drawing West’s last spade, and claimed. Poor Frank wiped the sweat off his brow, happy that he had successfully negotiated this mine field of a hand.
East immediately showed Archie the king, queen, and jack of hearts.
“Oh, I suppose you mean if I had led a heart earlier, we would have set the contract?” Archie said. “Well, if you want me to lead a suit, you should bid it.”
“East was not happy when Archie said that,” Frank said to Janet later as they discussed that evening’s hands. “But for once I think Archie was right.”
“How’s that, darling?” Janet said.
“Well, East had a 6-5 hand and never bid. Some Easts made five hearts on this hand. So me making four spades was a cold top.”
“I just wish I could have been there to see you in action, darling,” Janet said.