The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLXXXVIII: Poor Frank’s Brilliant Squeeze
By Ray Adams
Poor Frank was sharp just the other night at the local duplicate club.
Poor Frank and his partner bid up to a shaky five club contract and West led the eight of clubs, won by declarer in hand. Poor Frank could see four possible losers: a spade, a diamond, and two hearts. He knew he had to play this hand very carefully or he would go down.
At trick two, he led a spade. West rose with the ace and one of Poor Frank’s losers disappeared. West was reluctant to break another suit for declarer and exited with a spade. Poor Frank ruffed this and crossed to a high trump. When Poor Frank led a small heart, East had no choice but to duck or give declarer his contract. Thus, South’s king won this trick. Poor Frank now drew the last trump with dummy’s last high honor. He then cashed the king of spades, tossing his penultimate heart, and ruffed dummy’s last spade as both opponents followed.
Poor Frank now cashed his last trump, tossing the nine of diamonds from the dummy. East had no good discard. If East threw a heart, Poor Frank would duck a heart and establish dummy’s queen as the eleventh trick. Instead, East let go a diamond. Poor Frank now cashed dummy’s king and overtook the ten with his ace. When East’s jack fell on this trick, Poor Frank’s eight of diamonds took the eleventh trick. Poor Frank had played this hand brilliantly and deserved to win this evening. However, several other players, including Lucky Archie had bid 3NT over their partner’s three club bid and this had led to ten tricks in the form of six clubs, two diamonds, one spade, and one heart. Thus, Poor Frank’s reward for his brilliance was a below-average board and a score that dropped him into third place.
“Well, darling,” Janet said to Frank as they discussed that evening’s boards later. “I admire your beautiful play of the hand, but never forget that in matchpoints, it’s the higher score that counts. So never bypass 3NT if that is an option.”
“Yes, sweetheart,” Poor Frank said. “I let my singleton spade talk me out of the 3NT contract and I shouldn’t have.”
“Never forget, darling, that your arch enemy, the Lucky One, won’t let anything – not even a void – keep him out of 3NT.”
“Yes, but if I start bidding like him, what’s the point of even playing?”