The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLXXI: The Archie Factor
By Ray Adams
Poor Frank was cruising towards victory just the other night at the local duplicate club. He only needed an average on the evening’s last board to beat his rival. The hand soon showed promise of fulfilling Poor Frank’s expectations.
The kibitzers yawned as Poor Frank arrived in the normal four heart contract. Even a wild bidder like Lucky Archie was put off by the vulnerability and chose not to compete to four spades. The kibitzers knew what Poor Frank and Lucky Archie did not – this four heart contract had been bid and made at every other table and this board would be as average as they come. None of the kibitzers expected anything unusual to happen at this table, but they were too bored and lazy to go anywhere else. Of course, they had forgotten the Archie factor.
Every West on this hand had led the king of spades and this had led to ten easy tricks for declarer. Lucky Archie also reached for this card, but the three of diamonds fell from his hand. Poor Frank played dummy’s queen. Red Dyeman, sitting East, wondered if he should cover or wait until the jack was played, but then saw no advantage to holding up with a doubleton. Imagine his surprise when the king took the trick. He quickly put his last diamond on the table and Lucky Archie won his ace. The Lucky One now wondered if he should switch to the card he had originally meant to lead. However, Red was known for yelling at his partners if they failed to follow his line of defense, so Lucky Archie shrugged and put his last diamond on the table. Red ruffed this and cashed the ace of clubs to set what had appeared to be an impregnable contract.
The kibitzers looked even more stunned than Poor Frank. What exactly had happened? The head kibitzer finally asked Lucky Archie how he had found such an amazing defense.
“I simply could think of no other way to set the contract,” he modestly replied.
“I could think of no other way to set the contract,” Poor Frank said to Janet in a whiny voice as they discussed that evening’s hands. “What total horse manure. I saw the card drop out of his hand.”
“It makes you wonder,” Janet said, “if Lucky Archie would continue to get good results if he was able to keep all his cards in his hot little hand until it was time to play them.”
“Perhaps I should buy him some of that sticky stuff pro football receivers use to catch the ball,” Poor Frank said sadly.