The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part XXIV: The Unlikely Becomes Routine
By Ray Adams
Team Porcupine has always been known for turning the unlikely into the mundane. Not many pairs would bid slam with only 23 HCP between them, but this is absolutely commonplace for Kowalski and Nograwowicz.
After East opened one club, Nograwowicz pre-empted the hand to two spades. Kowalski gave this bid some thought. Since he had the top two spades, he reasoned his partner’s values must be elsewhere. He had an answer for the anticipated club lead and he figured that Nograwowicz would be able to establish his long heart suit. Thus, without further ado, he jumped to six spades. East surely must have considered a double, but with no trump winners and a lack of aces, merely passed with a somewhat melancholy shake of the head.
As expected, West led a club, taken by dummy’s ace. The ace of hearts was cashed and declarer ruffed a heart, noting the fall of West’s jack. Nograwowicz returned to dummy with a high trump and led another heart, East deceptively playing the king. Nograwowicz was not fooled by this ruse and ruffed with the jack, foiling West’s plan to overruff. Declarer now went back to dummy with the king of spades, dropping all the outstanding enemy trumps.
One more heart ruff established the suit for two additional winners. Declarer then conceded a club, won West’s diamond return with the ace, ruffed a club, and tossed his two losing diamonds on the hearts to claim this improbable slam. At the other table, the NS pair bid four spades and made five. This was a 13 imp pickup for Team Porcupine and proved decisive in a match they only won by seven imps.
Pas and Konejwicz never even commented on this remarkable slam when the team compared scores. For them, their teammates’ improbable, impossible, and unlikely bidding and play had become nothing more than humdrum and routine.