The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part II: Controlling Trumps
By Ray Adams
It’s very easy to make an error declaring a bridge hand. Some hands are so complex, only years of experience and the ability to analyze at the table can save a hand from going down. This was well illustrated recently when Team Porcupine played the following board against a very good teamThe most amazing aspect of this hand is that the lengthy bidding was the same at both tables. Also, both Wests led the king of hearts. But after this, the play varied greatly.
When Pas and Konejwicz were defending, declarer won the ace of hearts and played a small diamond at trick two. Pas ducked to Konejwicz’s jack. Koejwicz thought for a long time. He finally decided that the contract could only be set if South were cut off from the clubs. For this to happen, Pas would have to have the king or ace of spades and South only one club. He put his reasoning into action by returning a club at trick three. South won in dummy and tried the trump finesse, losing to Pas’s king. Pas returned a diamond, ruffed in dummy. Declarer could sluff another diamond on a high club, but could no longer make the contract. The defenders had to score a diamond or a ruff.
The timely return of a club by Konejwicz had effectively kept declarer from enjoying dummy’s long suit. Plus 50 to Team Porcupine.
When Nograwowicz played the hand, he felt he needed to control the trump suit in orderto use dummy’s beautiful clubs. He also reasoned that if trumps did not split 2-2, he had no play. At trick two, he led the queen of spades. West won the king, then cashed the ace of diamonds and led another diamond, forcing dummy to ruff. However, Nograwowicz’s key play of ducking a trump had left communications open with dummy. He now simply led to his ace of spades, picking up all the enemy trumps and had a club to lead to dummy so he could toss all his losers and claim the contract.
Readers should note that even if West leads a club at trick three, it is too late. Nograwowicz wins, draws the last trump and ruffs a heart in dummy to get to the running clubs. This was a key 11 imp swing for Team Porcupine and helped them win this match. It was also a triumph for critical thinking and trump control.