The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLX: Bad Karma

The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLX: Bad Karma

By Ray Adams

Poor Frank needed a good board against his rival on the last hand of the night and they drew the following cards:


Lucky Archie led the queen of hearts against Poor Frank’s small slam. Poor Frank could not help but notice when the dummy came down that there was a slight flaw in this contract. He was missing the ace and king of spades!   But ever the trooper, Poor Frank gave away nothing with his expression and labored on.

He won the lead in dummy and drew trumps in two rounds, ending in dummy. Next came the ace and king of clubs and two spade sluffs. He then played the king of hearts and ruffed a heart. Now all suits but trumps and spades had been eliminated. He led a low spade from hand, and Lucky Archie made the fine play of ducking. However, when Red Dyeman won his ace, he had to give declarer a ruff and a sluff. Poor Frank soon claimed his bold slam.

The normally phlegmatic Red suddenly became angry and yelled at Archie, “You dolt, why didn’t you lead a spade? Now he has no chance. No chance at all!”

“But, Red,” Archie said, “how would I ever know to choose a spade when I have the queen, jack, and ten of hearts?”

“They argued for about ten minutes,” Frank told Janet later as they discussed the evening’s boards. “I have seldom seen Red so mad. And you know what, I agree with Archie. He made a good lead and a good play when he ducked the spade.”

“Yes, darling,” Janet said, “but think of all the bad karma Archie’s accumulated over the years. Think of all the times he’s been congratulated for being an idiot. It was about time he got criticized for doing the right thing.”

“You’re right, sweetheart,” Frank said. “Maybe that’s why Archie looks so stoop-shouldered lately. It’s the weight from the invisible backpack he’s using to carry all that bad karma.”

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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLIX: Three Kings Too Few

The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLIX: Three Kings Too Few

By Ray Adams

A bidding misunderstanding put Lucky Archie in what appeared to be a doomed contract that would allow Poor Frank to win that evening’s duplicate.

The 2NT bid was a forcing spade raise by Red Dyeman, Lucky Archie’s partner. Although Red had only three spades, he reasoned that a forcing raise was his best bid. The 5♣ bid showed two aces and the king of spades, the pair playing 3014. When Lucky Archie asked for kings, Red replied 6♣, showing either three or zero, in this case zero, since Red had already shown the king of spades.

Lucky Archie, however, assumed it was three and bid the grand in spades.

When Poor Frank led the king of hearts, Lucky Archie’s eyes nearly popped out of his head. “I thought you had three more kings,” he said to Red.

“Maybe you should have cue bid,” Red replied in a gruff voice.

Lucky Archie had no idea how to play the hand, but he knew he had to take some finesses. He won the opening lead with dummy’s ace of hearts and immediately took the club finesse, which worked. He then drew trumps in two rounds, ending in dummy. He repeated the club finesse and subsequently threw a heart from dummy on the ace of clubs. Next came a low diamond, declarer inserting dummy’s queen when Poor Frank followed with the nine. This also took the trick.

“Now I see why they call you Lucky Archie,” Red was quick to comment.

Poor Frank shook his head. Would his incompetent rival best him once again on sheer luck?

The Lucky One now ran his trumps, causing Poor Frank immense psychological pain that quickly turned into actual physical torture. He saw that since dummy had the ten of hearts and the eight of diamonds that he was being squeezed. Did Archie even know what he was doing?

When Lucky Archie led the last trump, Poor Frank had to choose between the queen of hearts and the jack of diamonds. When he listlessly tossed the jack of diamonds, Lucky Archie’s eyes lit up and he discarded dummy’s ten of hearts. Now a diamond to the ace dropped Poor Frank’s king and dummy’s eight of diamonds took the thirteenth trick.

“Well done, squeeze master,” Red said, laughing out loud.

Lucky Archie turned to Poor Frank. “You can’t just toss jacks away and expect to win,” he said.

“What can I do?” Poor Frank said. “I just never seem to have any luck with knaves.”


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The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part LXV: Grand Slam Farce

The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part LXV: Grand Slam Farce

By Ray Adams

The grand slam force is very useful in grand slam bidding. It asks partner to bid seven of the agreed suit if partner holds two of the top three honors in the suit. Otherwise, only six should be bid. It is rather important, however, that the partners have agreed on a suit.

In the auction, 2NT showed 21-22 HCP and a balanced hand. Three hearts was a transfer, and four diamonds showed a second suit and an interest in slam. Everything was understandable up to this point. Then Kowalski bid four hearts, which in his mind showed support for both diamonds and spades and was a cue bid of the ace of hearts. Nograwowicz was not certain if Kowalski actually had support for one of his suits and he rebid diamonds to confirm five of them.

Now Kowalski was certain there was a slam and bid 5NT. He intended this to be the grand slam force. However, Nograwowicz thought his partner must be 2-2 in his suits and that Kowalski was simply trying to bail. He was thoroughly confused and for once in his bridge career, did not know what to do. He then passed, making the awkward 5NT the final contract.

Kowalski was shaken when he saw the dummy. He realized all he had to do was find the queen of spades or the queen of diamonds and a small slam could be claimed. West’s ten of clubs was covered by the jack and queen, declarer winning the ace. Kowalski led the king of diamonds, then the eight, as West discarded a club, and dummy’s ace took the trick. Kowalski had seen Nograwowicz play so many hands, that he now knew what to do. He had to keep East off lead because a club lead from West was safe, while one from East would cause him much distress.

He then played a small spade to the jack when East followed low. This held and things were looking up for Kowalski. He cashed the ace of spades, seeing that this suit was splitting 3-2, then conceded a diamond to East’s queen. He soon had twelve tricks lined up in front of him. However, he was extremely depressed since he knew he had been responsible for missing an easy slam.

But Pas and Konejwicz came back to the table with good news. Their opponent had been in six spades and had not needed to keep East off lead. This declarer guessed spades wrong, losing a trick to East’s queen. Then that same declarer had played for the drop in diamonds, also giving East a trick with the queen. So Team Porcupine had actually picked up 13 imps on this hand

The porcupines went on to win this match by 8 imps and later gave Kowalski’s bid a nickname:

The Grand Slam Farce.


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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLVIII: Lucky Archie and the Knell of Kibitzers

The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLVIII: Lucky Archie and the Knell of Kibitzers

By Ray Adams

Poor Frank and Lucky Archie were surrounded by kibitzers as they played the last hand of the evening the other night at the local duplicate club.

The club’s kibitzers had followed this hand around the room as it was surely the most interesting hand of the evening. The results had been all over the place: four hearts making, four spades doubled making, five hearts down, five hearts making, five spades doubled down one, six hearts down one or two and even six spades doubled down two. They were in a state of excitement and anticipation as the club’s two giants tried to best each other on this tricky board.

Poor Frank’s partner missed an inference when Poor Frank passed following East’s four spade bid. The pass undoubtedly meant that the three spade splinter bid had not improved Poor Frank’s hand. North still made a slam try with a five club cue bid and Poor Frank now co-operated, probably wrongly, with a five diamond cue bid. This was all North needed to hear and the slam was reached.

Lucky Archie as usual, gave no thought to his opening lead and tossed the seven of diamonds onto the table. When the mass of kibitzers saw this, they reacted – albeit silently in the approved manner of kibitzers – by jerking slightly and twisting their eyebrows into weird and impossible angles. In some cases, the ear hair even stood up as straight as a soldier at attention. Although no word was said, it was clear the kibitzers did not approve of this lead. It was almost as though someone had yelled, “What are you doing, you dolt? Did you not hear South’s diamond cue bid? Why not cash your ace of spades?”

But the lead was on the table and it went to the deuce, jack, and ace. Poor Frank looked despondent, as it seemed he had far two many losers, even if the club finesse worked. He played the ace of hearts, seeing that East was void in trumps, then a heart to the queen. He cashed the ace of clubs, noticing that East played the ten. He returned to his eight of hearts, picking up the last enemy trump.

Poor Frank thought about the play of the ten of clubs. Could East be showing a doubleton to partner for some reason?   It seemed unlikely. The law of restricted choice implied that East had to play the ten, either because it was a singleton or perhaps it was paired with the queen of clubs, which East would never have tossed.

Declarer now led a club. When West followed low, he had to make a choice. As he thought, he realized it would be extremely sweet to bring this contract home and make Lucky Archie pay for his thoughtless lead. So he called for dummy’s king, and lo and behold, East’s queen dropped. Poor Frank smiled to himself. He now had it made. He led a club to his nine, a trump to dummy’s jack, and cashed the jack of clubs, discarding his losing spade. He played the king of diamonds, gave up a diamond, and claimed on a crossruff.

The kibitzers now erupted into an explosion of comments, the two words “bad lead” being heard over and over again. Players lined up to congratulate Poor Frank, who had not finished first for several weeks.

Later, when Poor Frank was discussing that evening’s hands with Janet, he said, “You know when you say a collection of something in English, there are special terms, like a pod of whales, a pride of lions, a herd of cows, or a bevy of beauties. What’s the term for kibitzers?”

“I don’t think there is one, darling,” Janet said. “but I like a kitsch of kibitzers, since they behave in such a tacky manner.”

“Or how about a klutz of kibitzers,” Poor Frank said, “since they are way too clumsy to play or bid a hand correctly themselves.”

“Ah, but in this case,” Janet said, “I think I prefer a knell of kibitzers since their actions when Archie led seemed to foretell his doom.”

“Yes, let’s go with that,” Frank said.

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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLVII: Poor Frank’s Ruse

The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLVII: Poor Frank’s Ruse

By Ray Adams

Poor Frank needed a good result on the last board of the night. And sitting to his left was none other than his chief rival, Lucky Archie.


North knew Poor Frank needed a good board and was probably persuaded by his three clubs that Poor Frank was short in that suit. This may explain North’s very aggressive bidding.

Lucky Archie led the king of clubs and continued with the queen and jack, Poor Frank ruffing the third round. It certainly looked like East had the ace of clubs for the two club bid, but this player could hardly hold anything else. Thus, Poor Frank reasoned that the Lucky One had all the remaining high cards. However, even knowing where every missing ace, queen, and jack were did not mean that Poor Frank would make this contract. He still looked to lose a spade and a heart in addition to the two clubs already in the bag for the defenders.

At trick four, Poor Frank led the jack of spades, attempting to look like a man who wanted to locate the queen of spades. Lucky Archie fell for it and played low. Poor Frank now wasted no time cashing three diamond tricks. He then led another spade. Lucky Archie took the ace, but had nothing but clubs and hearts in his hand. A club would give a ruff and a sluff. But if the Lucky One led a heart, Poor Frank would insert dummy’s ten and claim when this held. And if Lucky Archie tried a heart honor, Poor Frank would win in hand and finesse the other honor on the way back. Either way, he soon claimed four.

Readers can see that if Lucky Archie had not bought into Poor Frank’s ruse and risen with the ace, he could have exited safely with either a diamond or a trump, then simply waited for his heart trick to set the contract.

Lucky Archie was scratching his head after the hand was over, trying to figure out why no one else in the room had made four spades.

Poor Frank saw this and could not contain himself, “I thought you had the queen of spades, Archie,” he said, “Imagine my surprise when I found it in my own hand.”

Janet later said to Poor Frank when they discussed the hands, “Imagine Archie’s surprise when he finally realized he had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.”

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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLVI: Poor Frank at His Best

The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLVI: Poor Frank at His Best

By Ray Adams

Readers sometimes wonder why Poor Frank gets beaten by Lucky Archie so often.   They ask “Is Poor Frank really a good player?”   Well, Poor Frank is undoubtedly the best player at his club. But there is a reason why he is called Poor Frank and his rival Lucky Archie.


Poor Frank arrived in a 4♠ contract that was reached by practically every other declarer. West tried to cash two clubs, but declarer ruffed the second one. Poor Frank now drew trumps in two rounds and led the four of diamonds, ducking this trick. East won the king and returned a diamond, taken by Poor Frank’s ace.

Poor Frank now led the two of hearts and played the nine when West followed low. East won his ten, but now found himself endplayed. Thanks to Poor Frank’s farsighted play of ducking a diamond, East had no diamond to return and either had to lead a heart into dummy’s tenace or give declarer a ruff and a sluff. Poor Frank soon claimed his game contract. As it turned out, no one else made four spades on this hand. The diamond duck had given declarer the extra chance he needed.

Later, when Poor Frank and Janet looked at the evening’s hands, Poor Frank said, “Here’s another example. One more hand where the defense tossed away a trick for Lucky Archie, but defended against me like a college football goal line stand. There were at least five like that and that’s why he won.”

“He is called Lucky Archie, after all, darling,” Janet said.

“But why does he get all the luck?”

“He doesn’t have it all,” Janet said. “After all, you’ve got me.”

“And, you know, that’s really all the luck I need,” Poor Frank said, but he still shook his head sadly.

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The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part LXIV: Double Game is the Porcupine Name

The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part LXIV: Double Game is the Porcupine Name

By Ray Adams

It is seldom the case that both NS and EW can make 3NT on the same board. However, due to the power of trumps and distribution, making game each way in a suit contract is very possible.

When Pas and Konejwicz sat EW, Konejwicz reached four hearts as seen in the bottom diagram above. South led the ace of clubs, and readers can see that NS should be able to take three club tricks and two spades to put the contract down two. However, it is not possible for the NS pair to untangle their tricks. South is faced with an insoluble problem at trick two. Any red suit shift allows declarer to jettison two losers on dummy’s diamonds and conceding two clubs later to make the game contract. A spade shift actually leads to the same conclusion, no matter which spade South leads. This was an easy +620 for Team Porcupine. Perhaps NS should have sacrificed, but obviously they thought they could beat the contract.

When Nograwowicz and Kowalski were NS, Nograwowicz ended in four spades doubled as shown in the top diagram above. When Kowalski took the extra bid, East was quick to double, most likely assuming Kowalski was sacrificing.   Readers familiar with Kowalski know that he has so much faith in his partner, Porczouk Nograwowicz, that he undoubtedly bid to make.

West started with the ace of hearts, East playing the eight. West gave his next move some thought after seeing the singleton in dummy. Eventually, this player shifted to the jack of clubs. Declarer won his ace and crossed to dummy with a heart ruff. He now threw two losing diamonds on the high clubs, took the winning spade hook, and returned to dummy with another heart ruff. The king popped up on the subsequent trump lead and declarer won, conceded two diamonds and claimed the doubled game.

This was +590 to go with +620 for a nifty 15 point pickup for Team Porcupine and definitely helped them win this match. Readers should note that EW did not set this contract because East failed to play the king of hearts on the ace at trick one. This would have told West to switch to the higher ranking non-trump suit, or diamonds. The defense would then have taken one heart and three diamonds to set the contract.

Once again a Team Porcupine opponent found out too late that any mistake against this formidable team usually leads to defeat.

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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLV: Poor Frank’s Vienna Coup

The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLV: Poor Frank’s Vienna Coup

By Ray Adams

The winner of the evening’s duplicate would turn out to depend on one crucial board.

Poor Frank and his partner were playing special Stayman where a player can open 2NT with a five card major. Thus, a 3♣ response asks not only for a four card major, but also for a five card major. When North located the heart fit, he made a general slam try of 5 and Poor Frank accepted.

West led the seven of spades. Poor Frank studied this card and decided that West probably made a passive lead for fear of leading away from an honor. Therefore, Poor Frank played West for the queen of hearts and at trick two, led a heart to the ten, losing to the queen. East exited with the nine of clubs and declarer won his ace. Poor Frank realized he was in trouble, but could still make it if West had four clubs to the queen and the king of diamonds. He finished drawing trumps and played off the ace of diamonds, establishing West’s king.

Poor Frank now ran off his last two trumps, tossing clubs from dummy. He then cashed three spades, ending in dummy. As he led the jack of spades, Poor Frank tossed the eight of diamonds, leaving him with the king and five of clubs. Dummy had the jack of clubs and the queen of diamonds left. West had to find a discard from the king of diamonds and the queen and ten of clubs. Eventually, West threw the ten of clubs and Poor Frank took the last two tricks with the king and five of clubs.

The kibitzers stood up and applauded Poor Frank’s Vienna Coup. However, on the next and final round they exited to Lucky Archie’s table to see if Poor Frank’s splendid result would hold up. Lucky Archie reached the same contract on a different auction and West led the four of clubs. Archie tried the jack and this took the trick. The Lucky One then reached into his pocket and pulled out a coin.

“Hmm, tails,” he was heard to say. “Tails means East has it.”

Lucky Archie then proceeded to finesse East for the queen of hearts. This worked and declarer later tossed his losing diamond on the long spade to make seven and win that evening’s laurels. Once again, the kibitzers stood up, but this time they were cheering Lucky Archie.

“Can you imagine that?” Poor Frank later said to Janet when they discussed the hands. “He used a coin to pick the direction of the finesse. And it worked.”

“What I would suggest, darling,” Janet said, “is the next time you have to take a finesse against Lucky Archie or his partner, tip over Archie’s chair. If he lands on his head, finesse his partner. But should he end up on his tail, finesse him.”

“You know, I think I would win no matter which way he landed,” Poor Frank said.

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The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLIV: The Archie Squeeze

The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part CLIV: The Archie Squeeze

By Ray Adams

The winner at the local duplicate just the other night depended on how Poor Frank did against Lucky Archie on the last board.


Lucky Archie was partnered with Queenie Hartz, a player who advocated opening weak notrumps when not vulnerable against vulnerable opponents. This explains Lucky Archie’s opening bid. Poor Frank’s double showed equal value and he was soon propelled to 6NT by his partner. Lucky Archie doubled, expecting to take two diamond tricks. Unfortunately for the Lucky One, his partner led the ten of clubs, giving Poor Frank a fighting chance.

The opening weak notrump told declarer where every one of the missing points were, so all Poor Frank had to do was exploit this knowledge. He won the opening lead perforce in dummy and tested spades, finding they were splitting. He left the high ten of spades in his hand. Next he tested hearts, finding that they, too, were running. Lucky Archie had to find three discards on the hearts. He chose two diamonds and one club. Poor Frank also let go of two diamonds and a club.

At this point, Poor Frank led a spade from dummy. Lucky Archie had to toss a club or the king of diamonds. After some thought, he chose the high diamond. Poor Frank won his spade and now knew he could endplay the Lucky One with a diamond. He led his last diamond, Lucky Archie won his ace and exited a small club. But Poor Frank simply inserted his jack, and when that held, he claimed. Readers can see that, if Lucky Archie had tossed a club instead, declarer would have cashed the king and jack of clubs and conceded the last trick. Either way, this was a top board for Poor Frank and allowed him to win that evening’s laurels.

Later, when he discussed the hands with Janet, he said, “That was a highly unusual squeeze. It was sort of a combination of a squeeze and an endplay.   I guess I could call it an Archie Squeeze.”

“Good name, darling,” Janet said, “but how about a Janet Squeeze for you?” And she put her arms around him and gave him a big hug.

“Much better than an Archie Squeeze,” Poor Frank said.


Poor Frank, Lucky Archie and Janet would like to thank Ralph Jungwirth of Modesto CA for showing them this interesting hand.


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The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part LXIII: Different Strategies

The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part LXIII: Different Strategies

By Ray Adams

One way to get to game is to bid it immediately. This cuts into the opponents’ bidding space and forces them to guess what to do at a high level.

When Pas held the West hand, he bid 4 as seen in the top auction above. This put considerable pressure on North, who was uncertain which action to take. The 5♣ bid (which would have been wrong) beckoned, but finally he passed.

Pas had no trouble making five, and would have probably made six had North not led the singleton diamond. This took away Pas’ late entry to the hefty clubs.

At the other table, West opened a pedestrian 1, which allowed Kowalski to easily waltz into the auction with a Michael’s cuebid. After a contentious bidding sequence, Nograwowicz emerged the winner at 5♠. The defense should lead spades to prevent declarer from scoring all his trump tricks. However, West had no spade to lead and started with the queen of diamonds.

East won the ace and shifted to a club, hoping West could ruff. No such luck. Dummy won the trick and Nograwowicz now crossruffed the hand, cashing the king of diamonds in the process. Eventually, he scored the ace of clubs, the king of diamonds, and nine ruffs for a total of eleven tricks to make his contract. Plus 650 and plus 650 was a nifty 16 imp swing for Team Porcupine and seemed to underscore the viability of their bidding methods.

As an after note, North at Pas’ table should probably try 4 or maybe even 5, but the prickly 4 bid had put way too much pressure on him, and the porcupines once again prevailed.

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