The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXLVI: A King Hits the Deck
By Ray Adams
The club where Poor Frank and Lucky Archie play does not hand out trophies, only master points, but if it did, Poor Frank knew he had that evening’s trophy in his grasp. But then a funny thing happened on the way to hearing his name announced as the winner.
In the auction, 2NT was a forcing raise in spades, 3♥ showed shortness, 4♦ was a cuebid, and 5♥ showed two of the five controls (four aces and the king of spades). Poor Frank led the ace of hearts, ruffed by declarer. Lucky Archie played this hand as well as any he had played the past year, eliminating all the other suits until he he had to make a decision in the key club suit.
He led a spade to dummy at trick two and ruffed a heart, then returned to dummy with another trump and ruffed the last heart. Now came the ace and king of diamonds. Archie was now set to play a club, pinning his hopes on the assumption that East held the queen of clubs. As readers can see, East did not hold this card and Lucky Archie was fated to go down.
However, when he led the jack of clubs and East did not cover, declarer was all set to play a low club, but in the act of pulling this card from his hand, the king of clubs slipped out and hit the table face up. Even though this card took the trick, the Lucky One’s jaw dropped as he now knew he had to lose to the queen and the ace of clubs. In fact he was on the point of conceding but instead tossed his four of clubs on the table and turned to his rival.
“I guess you win, Frank,” he said in a barely audible voice.
Poor Frank had no choice but to win his queen, but now had nothing left but hearts and diamonds and had to give his rival a ruff and a sluff, allowing Lucky Archie to claim this improbable slam and win that evening’s laurels.
When Poor Frank exited with a diamond, Lucky Archie turned to him and said, “Wow, that was a really bad play on your part, Frankie baby. I couldn’t have made my slam without a ruff and a sluff.”
“And what did you say to him then, darling?” Janet asked Poor Frank later as they were discussing that evening’s hands.
“Well, think of it this way, Archie,” I said. “I had no option but to make a bad play, while someone who watches over you took away your option to make one.”
“Do you think he understood you, darling?”
“I doubt it, sweetheart, since he said, ‘I did make a bad play, Frank, but yours was worse.’”