The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLXXV: Poor Frank Beats the Merrimac
By Ray Adams
Readers may recall that Lucky Archie had just returned from Disneyland last week. This week he made yet another play that seemed to indicate that the magic from that kingdom had not yet rubbed off.
In the auction, North’s 4♠ bid was a cuebid showing the ace of spades. This was all Poor Frank needed to hear to bid the grand slam in diamonds. Readers can see that declarer has more than enough tricks: 7 diamonds, six hearts, and the ace of spades. However, the hearts need to be unblocked and the ace of spades used as a late entry to the rest of the hearts.
With a normal lead of the ten of hearts, or perhaps a trump, all thirteen tricks are easy. But Lucky Archie made another of his Disneyland leads, placing the king of spades on the table.
“If any auction called for a spade lead, it was this one,” the Lucky One said, as Poor Frank stared at this card in horror.
Most likely Lucky Archie had no idea what he had done, but his lead had actually been a Merrimac coup, cutting off Poor Frank’s late entry to the unblocked hearts. Poor Frank now had to find another way home.
Declarer won the ace of spades and ruffed a club, then cashed the remainder of his diamonds He then played the queen of hearts and overtook the jack of hearts with dummy’s king. Dummy now had the ace of hearts, the five of spades, and the king of clubs remaining. East had the ten and nine of spade and the ace of clubs. Poor Frank had three spades to the queen. Lucky Archie was down to the jack of spades and the ten and nine of hearts.
When Poor Frank cashed the ace of hearts, East had to toss the nine of spades. Clearly the ace of clubs would have been wrong. Poor Frank had no trouble letting got a small spade and Lucky Archie followed suit. Now a spade to the queen dropped the ten and jack and Poor Frank’s eight of spades was the thirteenth trick.
“I should have won,” Frank said to Janet later that evening, “but it turns out every one else bid and made seven diamonds with a heart lead. So it was an average board and Lucky Archie beat me out by two lousy points.”
“Don’t fret, darling,” Janet said. “I’m sure no one played the hand as well as you. One day they’ll award style points and you’ll win by a landslide.”
“Meanwhile I keep getting buried in a landslide of Archie’s bad bids and lucky plays,” Poor Frank said.
“Yes,” Janet said, “but when they dig you out, I’ll always give you a big kiss.”