The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLXII: Three Paths to Slam
By Ray Adams
An interesting hand came up just the other night at the local duplicate club. Three of the club’s top declarers had a shot at it.
When Lucky Archie held the South hand, he bid 6♠ at his second turn. This turned out to be an easy contract. West led the queen of hearts, won in dummy. Archie then tested spades, playing the ace and a spade to the queen. When he saw the suit was breaking 4-1, he cashed the king of hearts, ruffed a heart in dummy, drew one more round of trumps and cashed clubs and diamonds. West eventually got the high trump, but it was plus 980 to the Lucky One.
Jack Leeder varied from Lucky Archie and bid 6NT at his second turn, perhaps acting on his hand’s lack of distribution. He also received the opening lead of the queen of hearts, again won by dummy’s ace. Jack now tested spades, for he saw that if this suit broke 3-2, he would have an easy twelve tricks. But it was not to be.
Jack was not discouraged. He now cashed all his clubs, tossing a small diamond on dummy’s last high club. He then cashed the ace and king of diamonds, his last high spade and then threw West in with a spade. West had to lead from his jack/nine of hearts into Jack’s king/ten. Twelve tricks were there for a nifty plus 990 to Mr. Leeder.
Poor Frank duplicated Jack Leeder’s bidding, probably for the same reason, and undoubtedly also because 990 scores more than 980. But West led the five of diamonds against Poor Frank’s 6NT, and this was taken by declarer’s ace. This lead was a much tougher one than Jack had received and Poor Frank had his work cut out for him. He also saw twelve easy tricks if spades behaved, but the king and queen of spades revealed the bad news. Poor Frank now realized he was in trouble unless West also had the queen and jack of hearts. He immediately rectified the count by giving up a diamond to East.
Back came a diamond and Poor Frank won in dummy and went after the clubs, tossing a small spade on dummy’s last high club. He noticed that West threw the queen of hearts on this card and Poor Frank allowed a small smile to play on his face. Was the situation the way he visualized it? He cashed dummy’s ace of spades. West let go of the jack, but declarer knew he still had the ten. Now came a heart to the king, declarer not taking the finesse West had encouraged. Yes, the jack dropped on this and Poor Frank soon scored up 990, a tie for top.
When he later described the hand to Janet, she said, “You should have gotten a cold top just for the way you played it. But that doesn’t happen in matchpoints. However, darling, I’ll give you some extra points.” They both smiled as she squeezed his hand.