The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLXX: Trouble with Kings
By Ray Adams
A freakish layout on the last board of the evening determined who would prevail between Poor Frank and Lucky Archie just the other night at the local duplicate club.
On this evening, Lucky Archie’s partner talked him into playing a forcing club system. This is why North opened one club, the pair’s strong bid. After East pre-empted all the way to four spades, North re-opened the auction with a double and Lucky Archie bid five hearts. Poor Frank thought he had a good double and this ended the auction.
Poor Frank’s normal lead would have been the king of clubs, but because of partner’s four spade call, he chose the ten of spades instead. The Lucky One won dummy’s ace of spades and saw he had potential losers in every suit and absolutely no idea how to get to his hand. The problem of how to go about playing the hand also had him completely baffled.
At trick two, he marked time by leading a low spade from dummy. The Lucky One could not possibly have known how well this play would work. East won the jack, but was now endplayed at trick two. A spade lead would give declarer a ruff and a sluff, but a diamond would go into the jaws of dummy’s impressive holding. After some thought, East chose the five of diamonds.
Lucky Archie played the eight and Poor Frank studied the situation. Surely East had the queen of diamonds for this lead, otherwise, why not lead a club? Thinking this way, Poor Frank went up with the king. Dummy’s ace won the trick and Lucky Archie now had an entry to hand in the form of the queen of diamonds. He used this entry and now led the queen of hearts for a trump finesse. This worked and Lucky Archie drew trumps in two rounds, ending in dummy.
Declarer then cashed the ten of diamonds, tossing a club. He now conceded a club and claimed this doubled contract for a top result. Poor Frank hung his head in despair, knowing it could have been his name that was announced as that evening’s winner.
Later, when he discussed the hands with Janet, he said, “All I needed to do was either lead the king of clubs or withhold my king of diamonds when partner led a diamond. Now Archie has no hope and has to go down.”
“Well, darling,” Janet said, “I see you’re having trouble with kings, lately, but don’t ever forget, you’ll always be the king of my heart.”
And for the first time since Lucky Archie claimed his five hearts doubled contract, a big smile flashed across Poor Frank’s face.