The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part XXXV: Team Porcupine vs. the Silver Fox
By Ray Adams
Part III: A Bid Too Far, Board 17
On this board, all the players picked up some cards with which they could go to work.
When the Fox’s 3♥ bid came around to Kowalski, he decided to bid one more, knowing his partner would be playing the hand. In fact, Kowalski was planning a chapter in his proposed book, Precision Kowalski, which would cover such situations. He knew he could always bid one more if Nograwowicz was playing the hand, while if he, himself, were destined to play the hand, he would always bid one less. According to his proposed text, this would be a cornerstone of Precision Kowalski. The Fox, not having read this book or even any reviews, thus had no trouble doubling Kowalski’s bid.
Diego opened the queen of hearts, the Fox signaling with the deuce. Now Diego shifted to the two of clubs. Declarer played low from dummy and the Fox’s ten won the trick. The Fox returned a small heart to Diego’s jack and another club soon hit the table. Dummy’s queen lost to the Fox’s king.
Nograwowicz ruffed when the Fox tried to cash the ace of hearts, and declarer led a low spade towards dummy. Diego rose with his queen and shifted to a diamond, the queen losing to the Fox’s king. The Fox now made the diabolical play of leading the thirteenth club, giving Nograwowicz a ruff and a sluff. In reality, this did declarer no favors. It could easily have caused a trump promotion for the defense and led to another undertrick.
Nograwowicz sluffed a diamond on the club, as did Diego. Dummy’s nine of spades took the trick. Nograwowicz now overtook the jack of spades and finished drawing trumps to claim. But he was down two for minus 300 to Team Porcupine.
“A most excellent defense,” Nograwowicz said to Diego and the Fox. “Without an early club switch, I can set up a long diamond and hold my losses to down one.”
“We saw you play the last hand, amigo,” Diego said, “and we did not want to give you a chance to create a trick out of thin air.”
“Our opponent is good, Diego,” the Fox said, “but like any other declarer, he can’t change our aces into nines. And did you see, Diego? I had some cards. I can do something when I have cards.”
Kowalski said nothing, but his face was red. He knew he had gone a bid too far and he hoped his bad judgment had not cost Team Porcupine too dearly.
The auction proved to be shorter at the other table:
Kowalski’s counterpart, Joe, chose not to take the push to 3♠ and Konejwicz declared 3♥. T.O.D. started with the ace of spades. This held, but Joe’s play of the four caused T.O.D. to tilt his head in thought. He finally switched to the nine of diamonds. This went to Joe’s ace, and the follow-up lead of the diamond queen was taken by declarer’s king.
Konejwicz cashed the ace of hearts and led a small heart to dummy’s jack. He played a small club, Joe inserting the eight. Konejwicz put in the ten and this took the trick. Another heart to dummy’s queen picked up the last enemy trump. When Konejwicz led another club, Joe was helpless. Konejwicz had managed to hold his losses to one club, two diamonds, and one spade to claim his contract.
“Nice play,” Joe grunted. T.O.D. nodded, perhaps in approval of his partner’s statement, then tilted his head and stared at a place only he could see.
Plus 140 and minus 300 added up to a 4 imp loss for Team Porcupine. The Crusaders were now leading the match 4 imps to 2.