The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLV: Poor Frank’s Vienna Coup
By Ray Adams
The winner of the evening’s duplicate would turn out to depend on one crucial board.
Poor Frank and his partner were playing special Stayman where a player can open 2NT with a five card major. Thus, a 3♣ response asks not only for a four card major, but also for a five card major. When North located the heart fit, he made a general slam try of 5♥ and Poor Frank accepted.
West led the seven of spades. Poor Frank studied this card and decided that West probably made a passive lead for fear of leading away from an honor. Therefore, Poor Frank played West for the queen of hearts and at trick two, led a heart to the ten, losing to the queen. East exited with the nine of clubs and declarer won his ace. Poor Frank realized he was in trouble, but could still make it if West had four clubs to the queen and the king of diamonds. He finished drawing trumps and played off the ace of diamonds, establishing West’s king.
Poor Frank now ran off his last two trumps, tossing clubs from dummy. He then cashed three spades, ending in dummy. As he led the jack of spades, Poor Frank tossed the eight of diamonds, leaving him with the king and five of clubs. Dummy had the jack of clubs and the queen of diamonds left. West had to find a discard from the king of diamonds and the queen and ten of clubs. Eventually, West threw the ten of clubs and Poor Frank took the last two tricks with the king and five of clubs.
The kibitzers stood up and applauded Poor Frank’s Vienna Coup. However, on the next and final round they exited to Lucky Archie’s table to see if Poor Frank’s splendid result would hold up. Lucky Archie reached the same contract on a different auction and West led the four of clubs. Archie tried the jack and this took the trick. The Lucky One then reached into his pocket and pulled out a coin.
“Hmm, tails,” he was heard to say. “Tails means East has it.”
Lucky Archie then proceeded to finesse East for the queen of hearts. This worked and declarer later tossed his losing diamond on the long spade to make seven and win that evening’s laurels. Once again, the kibitzers stood up, but this time they were cheering Lucky Archie.
“Can you imagine that?” Poor Frank later said to Janet when they discussed the hands. “He used a coin to pick the direction of the finesse. And it worked.”
“What I would suggest, darling,” Janet said, “is the next time you have to take a finesse against Lucky Archie or his partner, tip over Archie’s chair. If he lands on his head, finesse his partner. But should he end up on his tail, finesse him.”
“You know, I think I would win no matter which way he landed,” Poor Frank said.