The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLXXIX: The L of It
By Ray Adams
Just the other night at the local duplicate club, Poor Frank and Lucky Archie both had to make a decision at trick one of a tough contract that would determine that evening’s winner.
When Poor Frank declared 3NT, West led the ten of diamonds, covered by the jack and won by East’s king. East wasted no time cashing the ace of diamonds and returning a diamond, which established two additional diamond tricks for West. When Poor Frank tried to come to hand with a spade, West won the ace and cashed the diamonds for a quick down one.
Lucky Archie also declared the same contract and received the same lead. However, when Archie called for a card from dummy, he began to cough violently and no one was sure which card he had indicated. The director was called and tried to make sense of the situation.
Archie’s right hand opponent, a Miss Sansouci, said, “I heard elle, as in French for she.”
His left hand opponent, a Mr. Sanchez, said, “I heard el as in el toro.”
His partner said, “I heard L as in what the L.”
The director, known throughout the local bridge community as possessing the wisdom of King Solomon, then made his ruling. “Well, queen has no L sound in it. Neither does jack, six, or three. I believe our Archibald called ‘small’.” And so, dummy’s three was played.
Thus, West’s ten won the trick and East won the next two diamond tricks, but then had no diamond to return. So, when West took the ace of spades, diamonds had not been established. This fact, combined with the king of hearts being in the slot, allowed Lucky Archie to quickly line up nine tricks in front of him. The result of Archie making 3NT and Poor Frank going down was enough to propel the Lucky One into that evening’s winner circle.
Poor Frank could hardly believe it. Had Archie really called for a small card from dummy? Had he been that astute to see that such a play would block the suit?
“I sincerely doubt that he knew what he was doing,” Poor Frank said to Janet later that evening.
“I’m sure you’re right, darling,”she said. “I guess we’ll just call it the time Archie beat the L out of you.”
They both laughed at that, but not for very long.