The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part XX: Just Another Ping Pong Ball
By Ray Adams
Porczouk Nograwowicz of Team Porcupine found himself at the helm of a touchy slam in a very important match during a recent regional.
Kowalski was his usual exuberant and optimistic self once he realized his stalwart partner would be declarer, and quickly bid six clubs after partner’s three spade cuebid following a limit raise.
West led the queen of hearts. Nograwowicz saw he was in trouble and studied the hand for several minutes before playing from dummy. After considerable thought, he saw he had a chance if East had the ace of diamonds and clubs split no worse than 4-1.
He won the first trick with dummy’s king and advanced a small diamond, East ducking as the king won the trick. He then played a small trump to dummy’s nine, happy to see both opponents follow. Next came dummy’s last diamond, won by East’s ace. Declarer won the heart exit with his ace and cashed the queen of diamonds, sluffing dummy’s last heart.
Nograwowicz silently said a little prayer of thanks to the Great Shuffler, for West’s nine had fallen on the previous diamond trick and the jack dropped on this one, making declarer’s eight the current boss in the suit.
Nograwowicz now wrapped up the hand by ruffing a heart in dummy with the queen, leading the four of trumps to his ten, ruffing his last heart with the ace, then returning to hand with the ace of spades. The king and jack of clubs picked up West’s last two trumps and the established eight of diamonds was declarer’s twelfth trick.
Kowalski has frequently been demeaned by critics of Team Porcupine for his alleged overbidding. However, as long as Nograwowicz keeps rising to the challenge, these criticisms will no doubt bounce off Kowalski’s back like a ping pong ball off a paddle.