The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXCI: Archie’s Knavery
By Ray Adams
Poor Frank was on the verge of making a tough slam just the other night at the local duplicate club when he ran into some knavery from his rival, Lucky Archie.
In the auction, 2♣ was artificial and forcing, 2♥ showed two controls (ace = 2, king = 1), and all other bids were natural. This was the last round of the evening, and Poor Frank knew if he made this slam that he would win that evening’s laurels.
Lucky Archie led the five of clubs, won by declarer in hand as East followed. Poor Frank studied the dummy and saw he needed a minor miracle to make this bold slam. One opponent had to hold ace/king third of spades and declarer needed three dummy entries, but he could only see two: the queen of clubs and the ace of hearts.
After some thought, Poor Frank hit upon a plan. He cashed another high trump, then led a small spade towards dummy. Lucky Archie rose smartly with the king and exited with his last trump, won with dummy’s queen. Lucky Archie’s nine dropped when Poor Frank ruffed a small spade.
Poor Frank now led his small heart towards dummy. His plan was to play Lucky Archie for the jack and finesse it by playing the ten. This would create his third entry if it worked. As readers can see, it would have, as the Lucky One was in possession the jack of hearts on this hand.
A funny thing happened to Poor Frank’s plan. Lucky Archie had not beaten Poor Frank all week and he was extremely nervous and had trouble holding onto this cards. When Poor Frank led the five of hearts, the jack dropped from Archie’s hand. Poor Frank was shattered. He had to win the ace, and even though he ruffed out Lucky Archie’s king of spades, there was no longer a way to get back to the good queen of spades. Poor Frank was down one and Lucky Archie was that evening’s victor.
“Partner, please forgive me,” Lucky Archie said to East after the hand was over. “I played the jack of hearts by mistake, although it didn’t matter. Poor Frank was always down one.”
Later, when Poor Frank discussed that evening’s hands with Janet, he said,, “How it hurts to get beat by someone who has no clue. An excellent player would have played that jack, but with Lucky Archie it can only be an accident. Sometimes I just can’t stand it.”
“Yes, I’m sorry, darling,” Janet said. “Things like that take away from the beauty of the game. Still you found a way to make a contract many players would have missed.”