The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part XXVIII: He Who Dares
By Ray Adams
Most team events are won when one team bids and makes a game or slam while the other team fails to do so. Thus, the strategy of many teams is to try to create swings on borderline game or slam hands. Team Porcupine is no different from other successful teams in this aspect, but what sets them apart is the ability to create swings on hands that appear to be completely innocent.
With Kowalski and Nograwowicz sitting EW, 1NT by South was passed out as seen in the top auction diagram above. Kowalski led the four of spades and declarer was unable to take more than one spade trick, two diamonds and the ace of clubs. This was down three for a nifty plus 300 to Team Porcupine. Team Porcupine’s two opponents simply shrugged this off. There was no reason to believe that the result would be any different at the other table.
However, when Pas was sitting North on this hand, he decided to gamble when Konejwicz opened 1NT. He bid two clubs, Stayman, hoping to hear his partner respond two hearts or two diamonds, denying a four card major. When he saw Konejwicz’s two heart response, he quickly passed.
The opening lead was once again a spade. However, with hearts as trumps, declarer was able to win a spade and ruff a spade in dummy. He soon lost two trump tricks. Readers can see that the club suit was frozen, meaning that neither side could lead clubs without surrendering a trick. Konejwicz was able to find a way around this. In the end game, he played his ace and king of diamonds, giving up the next diamond. East won the ten and cashed the jack, but Konejwicz threw a club on this. Now East had to lead away from his king of clubs and Konejwicz had eight tricks lined up in front of him: one spade, one spade ruff, two hearts, two diamonds, and two clubs. This was plus 110 for Team Porcupine.
Plus 300 and plus 110 added up to a nine imp swing for the team on a hand with absolutely no game or slam possibilities. This was truly an amazing result. Later, team captain Stari Pas was asked what he would have done if Konejwicz had responded two spades to his Stayman bid.
“Passed, of course,” Pas said. “But I might add that if playing a 4-3 fit is character building, then Harrington Konejwicz would have been one of the most notorious characters in the USA by the time he finished playing in a 4-2 spade fit.”
Pas refused to comment on the additional question of whether playing for Team Porcupine aids in building character or in building characters.