By Ray Adams
The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part VII: The Importance of Optimistic Play
Team Porcupine star player Porczouk Nograwowicz was recently interviewed by this blog. In answer to a question regarding his declarer play, he stated, “My dummy play has radically improved since I formed a partnership with Stanislaus Kowalski.” He cited the following hand as an example:
When this hand was played with Pas and Konejwicz in the EW seats, North/South bid up to a three heart contract and made it on the nose for a plus 140 score. When Kowalski held the North hand, he apparently felt he had extra values and went on to game.
“I carefully scrutinized the dummy after the opening lead of the queen of hearts was made, and I swear, I could find no extra values in Kowalski’s hand,” Nograwowicz said. “As usual, he displayed his usual optimism in the bidding when he knew I was going to play the hand.”
“I immediately saw that I would have to find an unusual lie of the cards to make this borderline game,” Nograwowicz said. “It was a long shot, but if I found East with king doubleton in both red suits, I realized I had a chance.”
Declarer won the opening lead with dummy’s ace of hearts. He led a spade and inserted the queen, winning. He cashed the ace of spades and led a diamond to the ace, hoping as he said, that East would not see the necessity of unblocking the king this early in the hand. He then ruffed a spade back to hand and cashed his three club tricks.
When he led a heart from dummy, East won the king, then cashed the king of diamonds. But now, East had only black cards left. When he led one, Nograwowicz tossed his losing diamond, ruffing in dummy and claimed, conceding another trick to the jack of hearts.
“I tried to remain cool, but in spite of myself, I muttered ‘What a lucky lie of the cards!’ under my breath,” Nograwowicz said.
“When Stanislaus congratulated me on my play, I stared at him for a few moments and said, ‘I only played it the way you bid it – very optimistically.’”
We hope this will help enlighten readers as to why Nograwowicz is such an excellent declarer.