The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part V: Opinions Differ on Porcupine Wins
By Ray Adams
Detractors of Team Porcupine – and there are many – claim that this team wins mainly by luck. They insist that Team Porcupine reaches improbable and impossible slams through terrible and outrageous bidding sequences.
Defenders of the team feel that the Porcupines’ confident bidding tactics put extreme pressure on the opponents. Thus, many opponents crack under the strain and allow the team to skate over extremely thin ice to victory.
The following hand is a case in point and will allow readers to judge for themselves:
The meaning of Kowalski’s 5NT bid is not totally clear. Nograwowicz certainly took it to be the grand slam force and promptly bid seven spades holding two of the top three spade honors. Kowalski later stated he chose not to use Blackwood because he felt his partner surely held two aces for his three spade bid. Critics of Team Porcupine stated that they believed Kowalski had actually meant to bid 4NT and had therefore once again screwed up.
Be that as it may, West was left to find a heart lead. With little to go on, he finally chose the nine of clubs, possibly reasoning that a 974 holding had more promise than his 973 heart suit.
This choice proved fatal to the defense as Nograwowicz made short work of the hand. He drew trumps, played two more rounds of clubs, then the ace and queen of diamonds. When he saw East’s jack drop, he played restricted choice and finessed the ten of diamonds, inserting dummy’s nine when West played low on the lead of a small diamond. This held the trick and the king of diamonds was a welcome parking spot for the losing heart. Seven spades bid and made. This was worth 11 imps to Team Porcupine when their counterparts bid and made six spades.
Although this hand was over, the debate between the detractors and defenders of Team Porcupine was only beginning. The detractors said this result decisively proved the validity of their arguments, while the defenders announced that it conclusively showed they were right.