The Six of Clubs Wins Free Beer

The Six of Clubs Wins Free Beer

By Ray Adams

The Six of Clubs Wins Free Beer


Readers of this blog are undoubtedly familiar with the Sevens and Under Public House. This is a gathering spot for the lowly cards in a bridge deck. The only requirement for membership being that the card in question has to be lower than an eight. This is a jolly place where the little spot cards kick back and drink beer while telling tales of their exploits at the table. Once a month, a contest is held for the best bridge story in which that particular spot card played a heroic role. This is the entry for the Six of Clubs:


“Well,” the Six of Clubs said, “I was all nested in with my big and little club buddies in Mr. South’s long suit. Now, most Souths felt the fear of God Almighty when they noticed that they were vulnerable and East/West weren’t. So they chickened out and didn’t pre-empt and North/South had an easy run to a heart contract. Almost nobody made more than nine little tricks, but two careless players somehow let one pair make four hearts. But at the table where I was in play, the South player was a very brave soul who immediately pre-empted over East’s opener. When his partner raised him to five, West finally got around to doubling, for sure counting on a big number. But, you see, partners, he hadn’t counted on me.”

The other spot cards laughed at the little six’s “Ah shucks” demeanor.

“West led the singleton spade and my hero won in dummy with the ace. He then played the king of diamonds to West’s ace. West got out with a diamond, the queen snatching this, as my hero kicked out a heart. Next Mr. South ruffed a diamond, and ruffed a heart in dummy.”

The Six of Clubs then told how Mr. South ruffed dummy’s last diamond. “Yessir, he did,” the Six of Clubs said, “and darned if he didn’t up and ruff his next to last heart in dummy. Now ain’t this exciting?”

“It’s so exciting I’m gonna need another beer soon,” the Five of Hearts yelled, causing an outbreak of laughter from the attentive crowd. For after all, it had only been twenty seconds or so since this fine spot card had refreshed his mug.

“Well now,” the Six of Clubs continued, “we see just how smart our brave soul was. He led a spade from dummy and ruffed it with the Ace of Clubs! No matter how much he wanted to, old West couldn’t overruff that baby!”

“Surely he must come from a family of rocket scientists,” the Three of Diamonds said.

“Or maybe his daddy solved three dimensional sudoku puzzles while waiting in a checkout line,” the Deuce of Spades said.

“Let’s drink to smart declarers!” the Four of Diamonds yelled and this caused a rush to the bar and made the Six of Clubs temporarily suspend the spinning of his tale.

“So now, he was all safe and sound back in his own hand and he up and ruffed that last heart of his with dummy’s last trump. So all that was left in dummy was the spade suit.”

“Lead a spade, lead a spade,” the tipsy Seven, Six, Five, Four, Three, and Deuce of Spades chanted.

“Well, he sure had to,” the Six of Clubs said, “and he ruffed it with the jack of clubs. Old West decided not to overruff, throwing away a heart. And now, guess what? Old West had the king, five, and deuce of clubs left and my hero had the eight, seven, and good old yours truly. So can you see that if I had been in the West hand and my good little brother, the Five of Clubs, had been in declarer’s, my hero would have gone down. So I done saved him!”

The crowd cheered wildly and when the patrons later voted, the Six of Clubs won the big prize, which was three evenings of free beer. Everyone cheered the valiant six, and to show he was a good sport, he gave his first free beer to the Five of Clubs. After that, it was a memorable and merry night at the Sevens and Under Public House.



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The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part LX: A Crucial Discard

The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part LX: A Crucial Discard

By Ray Adams


Discarding is truly one of the hardest parts of the game and many times a player must make a discard before that player is fully prepared for it. This would suggest that a bridge buff should always try to anticipate how the hand will develop and how one seemingly innocent discard might play a role in the triumph or defeat of a contract.


The auction was the same at both tables. Readers can see that with normal defense (two diamonds. a ruff, ace of clubs and a ruff), a four spade contract would most likely go down two. At any rate, both Easts decided to shoot it out and try to set declarer.

Against Nograwowicz, West cashed the ace and king of spades and continued with the queen. East now had to find a discard and at this table, threw a club, East’s long suit. Nograwowicz ruffed the spade lead, led a club to dummy’s ace and followed this up with the jack of diamonds. East declined to cover and Nograwicz inserted his queen which held. Declarer next led a small diamond, trumped in dummy. East rose with the ace on the subsequent trump lead and returned a club. Nograwowicz ruffed this, then ruffed another diamond in dummy, as East’s king dropped.

Declarer next cashed the king and queen of hearts, drawing the last two trumps. He then played the ace of diamonds dropping West’s ten, and his seven of diamonds was the tenth and game-going trick. This was a nifty plus 590 for Team Porcupine.

When Pas/Konejwicz were defending the same contract, Pas also cashed the ace and king of spades and continued with the queen. But on this trick, Konejwicz tossed a small diamond. This soon proved to be a winning discard. Declarer ruffed the spade and led a club to dummy’s ace. Konejwicz covered the lead of the jack of diamonds with his king as South won the ace. Next came a diamond ruff in dummy. Konejwicz captured the subsequent trump lead with his ace and declarer ruffed his club exit.

But now, when declarer tried to ruff another diamond in dummy, Konejwicz overruffed with the jack of trumps to set the contract. This was plus 100 for Team Porcupine and the combined scores represented a nice 12 imp pickup. This was an excellent reward for having the foresight to make a simple, but crucial discard.

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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLI: A Difference in Discards

By Ray Adams

The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLI:  A Difference in Discards

  Poor Frank and Lucky Archie made different discards at a key moment in a hand just the other night at the local duplicate club. As it turned out, the card they threw away made a difference of 1530 points.

In the auction, 3NT was the so called “dinosaur” bid dating to the time of Charles Goren and showed a balanced hand with two spades and 16-18 HCP. When Lucky Archie played this hand, West led the queen of diamonds, ducked in dummy as East played the three. Having won this trick, West now shifted to the queen of clubs, won by declarer in hand.

Lucky Archie led a trump to the ten and ruffed a diamond. He then led another spade to dummy’s ace and ruffed another diamond, East’s ace dropping. This brought a big smile to the Lucky One’s face.

Declarer now drew the last enemy trump and led a club to the ace. Next came the king of diamonds and Lucky Archie laughed as he threw his losing club on this card. He then ruffed a club and led the king of hearts. Next came a small heart. When West played low, he inserted the ten. East won the queen and this was a quick down one.

When Poor Frank had his chance at the same contract, play started the same way, but after his diamond ruff dropped East’s ace and declarer then drew the last trump, play differed. Poor Frank now led the king of hearts and a heart to the ace. He tossed his last heart on the king of diamonds and led a heart. East’s queen popped up, declarer ruffed, and he later returned to dummy to toss his losing club on a heart. He soon claimed +1430. The difference in match points on this board allowed Poor Frank to slip past Lucky Archie for that evening’s laurels.

Later, when Poor Frank was discussing that evening’s hands with Janet, he said, “My favorite hand of the night was this 6♠ hand.” He then explained to her what both he and Lucky Archie had done.

“I thought Archie had a thing with the queen of hearts,” Janet said.

“So we thought,” Frank said, “but he must have upset her as she certainly deserted him on this hand.”

“Serves him right,” Janet said, “Now you, darling, certainly know how to keep a lady happy.”





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The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part LIX: Doubled Delight

The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part LIX: Doubled Delight

By Ray Adams


Stanislaus Kowalski of Team Porcupine recently remarked to his teammates, “You know, sometimes I think the Great Shuffler simply creates hands to test the souls of bridge players.” Shortly after Kowalski said this, the team was facing a formidable opponent in a Regional Knockout event when this hand came up:

In the top auction (and also in the bottom auction), 2 showed both majors. When West bid 4 over Nograwowicz’s 3♣ bid, Kowalski had no problem bidding 5♣. After all he would not be playing the contract.

West led the queen of hearts to the five, king, and ace. Nograwowicz sensed that clubs were splitting 5-0 and played the king of clubs to make certain, nodding his head when West tossed a heart. He then led the king of diamonds, East eagerly taking the ace to return a heart. Declarer ruffed this and led a diamond to the jack, West showing out. He then took the marked diamond finesse and played three more rounds of diamonds, tossing dummy’s two small spades. East ruffed the last diamond and played a spade.

Nograwowicz was now in a good position. He won his ace of spades, and certain that East had started with two spades, ruffed a spade low in dummy. He now led dummy’s last heart and East was couped. If he ruffed low, declarer would overruff with the nine, while if he ruffed with the ten, declarer would do the same with the club queen. He would then play his other high club and dummy’s ace and jack of trumps would score the game going tricks. Plus 550 for Team Porcupine.

At the other table, Pas did not bid 4 immediately and the opponents decided to double rather than bid 5♣. This proved to be a mistake, as Konejwicz quickly wrapped up ten tricks, losing only the ace of hearts and two spades. This was plus 590 for Team Porcupine and produced a 15 imp swing in their favor in a match they only won by 9 imps.

This test set up by the Great Shuffler had proven to be a doubled delight for Team Porcupine and also had once again justified Kowalski’s aggressive bidding when he knew his partner would be playing the hand.

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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CL: Archie Gets Deuced

By Ray Adams

The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CL: Archie Gets Deuced


It was an exciting time at the local duplicate club just the other night. The winner would be determined by the evening’s last board.


Poor Frank’s 4 bid was super aggressive, but he based it on his heart length, the anticipation of a spade lead, the need to beat Lucky Archie, and his belief that his left-hand opponent would somehow make a fatal mistake.

Lucky Archie led the deuce of spades to the four, king, and Poor Frank’s ace. Poor Frank saw he had the potential for a lot of losers: the king of trumps, two diamonds, a spade, and a club. At trick two he led the queen of hearts, quite pleased when Archie played the king. Poor Frank saw it would be mandatory to establish dummy’s clubs while he still had a dummy entry. He acted on this and played the ace of clubs and a small club, gratified to see Lucky Archie rise with the king.

The Lucky One now cashed the queen of spades and led another spade, playing his partner for four only spades. But East had five and Poor Frank ruffed this trick. He now led his nine of hearts to dummy’s ten, picking up East’s last trump in the process. He tossed a losing diamond on the queen of clubs and ruffed a club with his jack of hearts. This established dummy’s seven of clubs. And now, due to his care in watching the heart spots, Poor Frank was able to lead his carefully preserved deuce of hearts to dummy’s three. He then cashed the good club, tossing his last losing diamond. Making five for plus 450 was an ice cold top and allowed Poor Frank to slide past Lucky Archie into first place.

“Archie you dolt!” East yelled when the hand was over. “Why can’t you play the ace of diamonds and see what I give you.” He showed Archie the king and ten of diamonds.

“I thought Frank had the king of diamonds for his bid and I wanted to get to your hand.”

“If you truly wanted to get to my hand, you would have led your ten of spades to my jack instead of cashing the queen,” East countered.

“But the queen was good,” Archie whined, “and I didn’t know who had the jack.”

“It was like listening to my favorite music,” Frank said to Janet later when they met to discuss that evening’s boards.

“I can almost hear it,” Janet said, “Archie’s whiny voice singing the ‘I Got Deuced Blues.’”

They both had a good laugh over that one.


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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXLIX: Give Him What He Wants

The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXLIX: Give Him What He Wants

By Ray Adams

There are different ways to counter plays by the defense and one of the most rewarding is probably giving the defender exactly what the defender wants.

It was late in the game and Poor Frank felt he must be trailing Lucky Archie by a point or two. He needed one more good board against his rival to have a chance to win that evening. He reached 4 on the above hand, and this was most likely a normal contract. But would everyone make it?

Lucky Archie led the three of spades, taken by Poor Frank in hand with the king after playing low from dummy. Poor Frank thought about his chances for a while. He could try to ruff diamonds in the dummy, but that play offered little hope as whoever won the first club would undoubtedly shift to a trump and little ruffing value would remain in dummy. No, dummy’s spades looked more promising.

Lucky Archie had bid clubs and led a spade, normally a sign that the defender was looking for a ruff. Well, maybe it would be good strategy to give Archie what he wanted. At trick two, Poor Frank led the king of spades, ruffed by Archie.

“Great play, Frankie baby,” Archie said with an annoyingly huge smirk on his face. Poor Frank said nothing.

Archie now tried the king of clubs. When this held, he knew East must hold the ace, but Poor Frank ruffed the subsequent club lead and led a trump. Archie took his ace and tried his queen of clubs. Poor Frank ruffed this, and led another heart to dummy, picking up the last enemy trumps. Poor Frank now cashed the queen of spades and ruffed a spade with his last trump. He then played the ace of diamonds and ruffed a diamond to claim, dummy’s last spade being good.

“Archie, Archie, Archie,” East said after the hand was over. “After you ruff, lead the queen of clubs. This protects your holding and allows me to overtake with my ace and put a spade on the table to set this contract.”

“What,” Archie said. “Lead queen from a queen-king holding? Only a rank beginner would do something like that? I’m one of the best players in the club. I would never make a rookie mistake like that.”

“Only if you want to win,” East said, so softly that only Poor Frank heard it.

“You know, East was at fault, too, darling,” Janet said to Poor Frank later that evening.

“Yes, he could have overtaken the king and given Archie a ruff to set me, sweetheart.”

“I guess you were lucky this time, darling, since neither opponent really knew what they wanted.”

They both had a good laugh over that.

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The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part LVIII: Kowalski Ignores Critics

The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part LVIII: Kowalski Ignores Critics

By Ray Adams

Many critics of Team Porcupine single out Stanislaus Kowalski as the weak link in the team’s lineup. They frequently say things like, “Kowalski has no concept of decent bidding,” or, “Kowalski bids like a wild man from Borneo,” or “Sewage stinks and so do Kowalski’s bids.” None of these unkind comments, however, have ever had any effect on Kowalski – and for good reason. He only makes wild bids when he knows his partner, Porczouk Nograwowicz, will be playing the hand. And Nograwowicz has a habit of making Kowalski’s wildest bids look good.


In the above auction, many Norths would have bid either 3 at their second turn to suggest a 3NT contract, or even bid 3NT themselves. And of course, 3NT would have been an excellent game. But when Kowalski realized Nograwowicz would be at the helm, he jumped to 4♣, suggesting a possible minor suit slam. Nograwowicz needed no further prompting.

West led the queen of hearts, declarer sighing to himself and wondering how he could possibly make this hand. Hard thought brought him to the conclusion that he might bring it home if East had the ace of diamonds and clubs split no worse than 4-1.

He won dummy’s king of hearts and led a diamond at trick two, East ducking and South’s king winning.   He played a small club to dummy’s nine, happy to see both defenders follow. Another diamond induced East to take his ace and exit with a heart. Declarer won his ace and cashed the queen of diamonds, sluffing dummy’s last heart. Nograwowicz’s concentration – sometimes called “impossible” by his teammates – caused him to notice that his eight of diamonds was now high, the ace, king, queen, jack, ten, and nine having all dropped. He now had hope.

He ruffed a heart in dummy with the queen, led the four of clubs to his ten, ruffed his last heart with the ace, and returned to his his hand with the ace of spades. He then drew the last two trumps with his king and jack, and claimed, the eight of diamonds beating East’s six on the last trick.

As long as Nograwowicz plays hands like this, the criticisms of Kowalski’s bidding will probably bounce off his back like a ping pong ball off a paddle.


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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXLVIII: A very bad Bridge Dream

By Ray Adams


Poor Frank had a very bad bridge dream just the other night.

The dream Poor Frank asked for the meaning of the bids before he made his opening lead. 2♦ was explained as a three suited hand with no five card major, but possibly a five card minor. 2NT asked for the short suit, and 3♣ showed club shortness. Lucky Archie obviously panicked when his partner bid 5♣ and tried to pull it to 5♦, but North persisted with 6♣ and that became the final contract.

Poor Frank knew a major suit lead was called for, but which one? After a while he decided to lead the one in which he actually held something. So the king of hearts hit the table. Lucky Archie made short work of the hand. He won the ace of hearts, ruffed a heart, drew trumps in three rounds, sluffing spades, then played the ace, king, and queen of diamonds. When this suit split 3-3, he tossed the last spade from dummy and claimed seven.

In the dream, Poor Frank’s partner showed him the ace and king of spades which obviously would have cashed and set the contract. The dream Poor Frank then ground his teeth so violently that it woke the real Poor Frank up. His entire body was palpitating and his heart was racing. Only by declaring in his void, could the dream Lucky Archie have made this strange contract. Poor Frank knew this was one of the worst dreams he had ever had, and it was hours before he could go back to sleep.

The next time Poor Frank played Lucky Archie, it was the last round of the evening and most likely the first place finisher would be the player who did the best on this set boards. On the first hand, Poor Frank picked up:    When Lucky Archie put down the 2♦ bid card, Poor Frank started shaking. Then North bid 2NT and Lucky Archie bid 3♣.   By this time Poor Frank had turned pale and was sweating profusely. He had to excuse himself and go to the men’s room to throw up. When he returned, Lucky Archie was playing 6♣. Poor Frank said to himself, “No, I’ve seen this movie before,” and led a spade.

Unfortunately, this was reality and not a dream. This time Lucky Archie had the ace of spades and the jack of hearts. He soon claimed seven and Poor Frank made ten mistakes on the last two boards to allow his rival to finish first as he dropped all the way to fourth place. As bad as the dream had been, the reality had been much worse.

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The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part LVII: Always the Count

The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part LVII: Always the Count

By Ray Adams

Bridge buffs know that if they have any super power, it is their ability to count to thirteen. Most bridge buffs apply this power to the four suits of a card deck, but counting does not stop there. It can also be used to count the 40 high card points in a deck and thereby determine who holds which high card. No one has mastered this technique better than Porczouk Nograowicz of Team Porcupine.

   The auction was rather simple. After West opened one diamond, Kowalski made a takeout double with his perfect distribution even though he may have been short a point or two. Nograwowicz had an excellent, fourteen point hand with four hearts and bid the red suit game.

West led the five of diamonds to the ace and East’s jack. Declarer took the trump finesse, losing to West’s king. Back came another trump, won with dummy’s queen. Nograwowicz was now certain that West had most of the missing spade honors, plus the king of clubs for the opening bid. He also surmised that West, with no diamond honors, must have more diamonds than clubs. He hoped that West had exactly four diamonds and two clubs and played the hand accordingly.

He cashed the ace of clubs and came to hand with the ace of hearts, drawing West’s last trump in the process. He then cashed the king and queen of diamonds, tossing two spades from dummy. Declarer now led a small club, hoping that his reasoning was correct and that West would be forced to win the king. This proved to be the case and West was end played, with no choice but to set up declarer’s king of spades or present him with a ruff and a sluff. Either way, Nograwowicz had his tenth trick and soon claimed this game contract.

Some readers may notice that West could have avoided the end play by jettisoning his king of clubs on declarer’s ace. However, had West done so, Nograwowicz had a counter punch. He had timed the hand so perfectly that he would now have sluffed two of dummy’s clubs on the king and queen of diamonds. Then he would have lost two spades and a trump instead of one spade, one club, and one trump and the result would have been the same. This was a thirteen imp swing for Team Porcupine and allowed them to win their match by nine imps. It was a fine result for a bridge buff who always has the count.

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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXLVII, Poor Frank’s Brilliant Sacrifice


The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CXLVII, Poor Frank’s Brilliant Sacrifice

By Ray Adams

Bridge buffs know that taking a sacrifice can frequently be a good strategy in bridge. Those who sacrifice do not expect to make their contract, only to lose fewer points than they would have if the opponents make theirs.

When Lucky Archie’s partner, Jack Leeder, opened the hand one heart, Lucky Archie immediately had visions of a grand slam dancing in his brain. He jumped to Key Card Blackwood, and when he saw the five club bid hit the table, he knew his partner had the three missing aces. He then bid seven hearts. He and Jack were already writing 7 S in their private score card, forgetting that the auction was not officially over.

It is difficult to imagine the shock Jack and Archie must have felt when Poor Frank’s 7♠ bidding card softly found its way to the table. They both looked at Poor Frank in horror, It had been months since this pair had bid and made a grand slam. Now this miscreant, this parasite in the side of good bridge players, was taking away their chance to play it.

Lucky Archie slammed a double card on the table, then picked up another one and slammed that one down, too. He even banged a third double card on the table. His face was red and his hands were shaking. The look on his face suggested he had a strong desire to commit homicide on Poor Frank. However, Jack Leeder had a much cooler head than Lucky Archie and pulled the double to 7NT.

If readers study the hand, they will note that 7 is a wonderful, laydown contract, but in no trump,

the thirteenth trick depends on the diamond finesse working. Lucky Archie was muttering under his breath, but when he finally realized he had no choice but to take the diamond hook, it worked and he soon had thirteen tricks lined up in front of him.

Poor Frank’s contract of 7♠ doubled would have only gone down 1400 or at most, 1700, most likely a top result when the opponents could make 2210. But no one else bid 7NT, so Lucky Archie and Jack Leeder wound up with the top result and later claimed first place that evening.

Later that evening, when Poor Frank was discussing the hands with Janet, he said, “Well, sweetheart, it was the most brilliant sacrifice of my entire bridge career and all it netted me was a big, fat zero.”

“Don’t worry darling, at least you caused Lucky Archie to lose his cool and make his blood pressure soar into the stratosphere. And don’t forget that even if you didn’t get rewarded at the table, at least I saved a kiss or two for you.”

And the smile was back on Poor Frank’s face.

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