The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLII: That Telling Look of Agony
By Ray Adams
Poor Frank got into a tough contract just the other night at the local bridge club. Would a combination of his superior technique and a little bit of psychology pull him through?
In the auction, 5♦ showed two aces and the king of spades. It was the last board of the night and Poor Frank wanted to beat Lucky Archie very badly as he had just finished second to the Lucky One three times in a row. This is probably why he bid all the way up to 7NT.
Archie’s partner, Red Dyeman, led the eight of hearts. This looked like top of nothing to Poor Frank so he played dummy’s ace and hoped for things to look up later in the hand. However, he had started with twelve top tricks, so a diamond finesse or possibly a squeeze would bring in trick number thirteen.
Poor Frank now ran all seven spades, eventually throwing all the remaining four hearts in dummy. But as he was doing this, he carefully looked at his opponents to see if their expressions gave anything away. Red was totally stone-faced and acted as though he were in absolutely no trouble whatsoever. But that was Red, a player who was well known for never showing any emotions at the table. Lucky Archie, on the other hand, was beginning to show symptoms of severe agony.
Now Poor Frank cashed his queen of clubs and the top two clubs, throwing a small diamond on the last top club. He sneaked a glance at his right hand opponent. Lucky Archie’s countenance was red, he was sweating heavily, and his face was screwed up as though he had just eaten five lemons. Poor Frank read this to mean that the Lucky One had both red kings and the squeeze had worked.
At this point, the dummy was down to the ace and queen of diamonds, while Poor Frank had the jack of hearts and the eight of diamonds. Putting his opponent reading into action, Poor Frank led a diamond at trick twelve, and when Red played the jack – which readers can see was a deceptive play – Poor Frank called for the ace. Lucky Archie’s king dropped and Poor Frank had jumped past his rival to win that evening’s laurels.
Later, when he and Janet were discussing the hands, Poor Frank said, “Well, sweetheart, you should have seen Lucky Archie’s face just before trick twelve.”
“You bet, darling,” Janet said. “I only wish you had recorded it on a video camera. But tell me, which did you enjoy more, making 7NT or seeing the expression on Archie’s face?”
“Hmm,” Poor Frank said, “that’s a tough one.”