The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part XXXVII: Team Porcupine vs. the Silver Fox
By Ray Adams
Part V: A Nod to Vienna, Board 19
In matchpoints, the strategy is to reach the contract that scores more. For example, 3♥ making will score 140, while if the same hand could also make 4♦, that is only 130. Thus, 3♥ would most likely be the matchpoint decision. However, in team play, the players normally try to reach the safest contract, since the difference between 130 and 140 represents absolutely no swing.
At this table, Kowalski quickly arrived at the matchpoint contract of 6NT. The Fox led the jack of spades and Kowalski played the hand with little or no imagination. He counted six diamond tricks, two club tricks, one heart trick, and three spades. When spades did not split 3-3, he ran off his 12 tricks and conceded a trick at the end. This was plus 990 for Team Porcupine.
“No cards, Diego,” the Fox said. “these fellows bid games and slams and I can only hopelessly follow suit and try to sneak sacrifices through. I need cards to do some good.”
Here, Joe and T.O.D. reached the “safer’ contract of 6♦, and Konejwicz led the jack of spades. Joe carefully studied the dummy and decided to play Konejwicz for the king of hearts and four spades to the jack. He won the first trick in hand, then went to dummy’s ace of hearts, cashed the ace of diamonds and came to his hand with the ace of clubs. He then drew the rest of the trumps, pitching all of dummy’s hearts. Next came a club to dummy’s king. Joe cashed the king of spades and ruffed a club. Konejwicz had no answer. If he threw a spade, dummy’s spades would run. If the king of hearts, Joe would get a thirteenth trick with the queen of that suit. Either way, Joe’s Vienna Coup was worth 940 to the Crusaders.
Joe had clearly outplayed Kowalski on this hand, yet Kowalski’s matchpoint decision had netted two imps to Team Porcupine. After five boards, the match was once again tied, this time four to four.