The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part VIII: Convention Mad
By Ray Adams
Followers of Team Porcupine know that this group’s use of bridge tactics began with many experimental and radical conventions which eventually evolved into the strictly mundane in the latter part of their career as a competing team. In the beginning, they commonly used many strange and unusual conventions such as Drzourzy. This occurred when partner opened a major in third seat. The Drzourzy response of two clubs asked, “Partner, are you certain you have thirteen cards?” However the team quickly dropped this convention after a couple of years when Nograwowicz gained more confidence in Kowalski’s counting ability. Readers may see an example of the team’s use of unusual conventions in the following hand when Team Porcupine was still in its experimental and radical stage:
The bidding in the top auction above occurred when Pas and Konejwicz were EW. They quickly arrived in game with no interference whatsoever from the opponents. Konejwicz’s one spade response handcuffed the South player who later found his first bid would have to be at the high three level. The play was elementary, with Pas quickly racking up six hearts, two ruffs in dummy, the ace of clubs, and a small club. Plus 420 for Team Porcupine.
At the other table, Nograwowicz’s 1NT overcall was the infamous Porcupine Notrump Convention, promising values in the suit overcalled and in another, unnamed suit. Kowalski’s double was Little Stayman, showing two three-card majors and scattered values. Nograwowicz now had no trouble bidding four spades. West quickly doubled, perhaps insulted by the bidding sequence.
Kowalski’s redouble was his own remarkable creation: the lead-directing redouble. This bid is normally shunned by most experts, who feel that in practically all cases, the redoubler’s partner tends to be precluded from the lead for obvious reasons.
However, on this hand, Kowalski felt that if Nograwowicz should get the lead, a club (opener’s second suit) from him would be greatly appreciated. As it turned out, by the time Nograwowicz got around to leading a club, he had already scored five spade tricks and five diamond tricks to bring his redoubled game home. This produced a plus 1080 score for Team Porcupine. Thus, Team Porcupine won 17 imps on this key deal, almost enough to swing the match for them.
Based on hands such as this, historians of Team Porcupine have concluded that, “The team’s path to glory was a rocky and slippery one, littered with discarded conventions that should never have seen the light of day in the first place.”