The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXLIX: Give Him What He Wants
By Ray Adams
There are different ways to counter plays by the defense and one of the most rewarding is probably giving the defender exactly what the defender wants.
It was late in the game and Poor Frank felt he must be trailing Lucky Archie by a point or two. He needed one more good board against his rival to have a chance to win that evening. He reached 4♥ on the above hand, and this was most likely a normal contract. But would everyone make it?
Lucky Archie led the three of spades, taken by Poor Frank in hand with the king after playing low from dummy. Poor Frank thought about his chances for a while. He could try to ruff diamonds in the dummy, but that play offered little hope as whoever won the first club would undoubtedly shift to a trump and little ruffing value would remain in dummy. No, dummy’s spades looked more promising.
Lucky Archie had bid clubs and led a spade, normally a sign that the defender was looking for a ruff. Well, maybe it would be good strategy to give Archie what he wanted. At trick two, Poor Frank led the king of spades, ruffed by Archie.
“Great play, Frankie baby,” Archie said with an annoyingly huge smirk on his face. Poor Frank said nothing.
Archie now tried the king of clubs. When this held, he knew East must hold the ace, but Poor Frank ruffed the subsequent club lead and led a trump. Archie took his ace and tried his queen of clubs. Poor Frank ruffed this, and led another heart to dummy, picking up the last enemy trumps. Poor Frank now cashed the queen of spades and ruffed a spade with his last trump. He then played the ace of diamonds and ruffed a diamond to claim, dummy’s last spade being good.
“Archie, Archie, Archie,” East said after the hand was over. “After you ruff, lead the queen of clubs. This protects your holding and allows me to overtake with my ace and put a spade on the table to set this contract.”
“What,” Archie said. “Lead queen from a queen-king holding? Only a rank beginner would do something like that? I’m one of the best players in the club. I would never make a rookie mistake like that.”
“Only if you want to win,” East said, so softly that only Poor Frank heard it.
“You know, East was at fault, too, darling,” Janet said to Poor Frank later that evening.
“Yes, he could have overtaken the king and given Archie a ruff to set me, sweetheart.”
“I guess you were lucky this time, darling, since neither opponent really knew what they wanted.”
They both had a good laugh over that.