The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part XIX: Kowalski’s Bold Bid
By Ray Adams
As followers of Team Porcupine are well aware, Stanislaus Kowalski considers the best part of his game to be placing difficult contracts in the capable hands of his partner, Porczouk Nograwowiz. Kowalski was at it again when the following hand came up in an important match:
When Pas/Konejwicz were sitting E/W, the auction went as in the top diagram above. Konejwicz led his singleton king of spades, his partner’s suit. Declarer had no trouble making eleven tricks for plus 650. As the players folded up their cards and put them back in the board, South smiled at his partner and said, “Precision bidding.” North smiled back, happy they had not bid the hopeless slam.
However, things went differently at the other table. Instead of overcalling his six card heart suit, Kowalski started with a double, certain he could later bid hearts to show a better-than-average hand. When his partner somehow bid his long suit, Kowalski got excited and jumped to slam, certain that Nograwowicz would manage to squeeze twelve tricks out of his fine holding.
This time West was on lead and – not surprisingly – started with the ace of diamonds. Nograwowicz ruffed this in dummy and led a heart to his queen, picking up all the outstanding trumps. He then advanced the queen of clubs, covered by the king and won with the ace. He cashed dummy’s jack of clubs and ruffed a club. Next came a diamond, ruffed in dummy. Declarer then trumped dummy’s last club, stripping the two hands down to trumps and spades.
It was Nograwowicz’s hope that West had but five spades, leaving East with a singleton. If this lone spade were an honor, then he saw a way to make the contract. He led a small spade at trick two. West decided to play “safe” by splitting honors and inserted the jack. Nograwowicz played dummy’s ace and East’s king fell on this trick! Now it was a simple matter of leading a spade to the nine and claiming, conceding one trick to the queen.
East muttered something about West not playing the jack, but Nograwowicz was quick to point out that he would have played the ten if West had followed low. This would have put East on lead and since this player would have been out of spades, any exit would have given declarer a ruff and a sluff, allowing the contract to be made. Thus, there was no defensive error, just superior technique on the part of Nograwowicz.
Plus 1430 for Team Porcupine allowed them to pick up 13 imps on this board in a match they only won by 7 imps. It was once again a triumph for Kowalski’s quirky style of transferring the play of the hand to his brilliant partner.