The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part XLV: Overcoming a Rare Error
By Ray Adams
No bridge player is perfect and that is as true of Porczouk Nograwowicz of Team Porcupine as it is any other excellent player. What makes Nograwowicz so formidable, however, is his ability to overcome almost all of those few errors he does make.
In the auction, 2♦ was a transfer to hearts, and 3♥ was a super accept, Nograwowicz choosing this bid even though he only had three hearts. 4♣, 4♦, and 4♠ were all cuebids. West led a small trump, Nograwowicz capturing East’s nine with his jack. Declarer next led a small club to dummy’s king and East’s ace. East returned a spade to dummy’s king.
Nograwowicz saw that one club ruff would give him twelve tricks in the form of six hearts, four spades, one club, and one diamond. That is, if trumps split 3-2. Nograwowicz played the queen of clubs next, all following. He then played dummy’s king of hearts, cursing himself silently when East tossed a diamond.
Too late, Nograwowicz realized that he had not allowed for a 4-1 division of the trump suit. It now appeared that West would score his ten of hearts for down one, as Nograwowicz still had to ruff a club. As he thought it out, he saw a way if West had started this hand with at least three spades.
He cashed the queen of spades and came to hand with the ace of spades. Hi sigh was audible when West followed to this trick. Next came the ace of diamonds, as declarer sluffed a club from dummy. He then ruffed a diamond with a small trump. Next came the ten of clubs, covered by the jack and trumped with the ace of hearts as West also followed.
When Nograwowicz now led the jack of spades, West saw that he had been couped. If he ruffed the spade, Nograwowicz would overruff in dummy, draw the last trump, and cash the good club. If West threw a diamond, declarer would discard dummy’s last club and lead a diamond. West would be caught with the ten and six of hearts in front of dummy’s queen and seven.
“Sorry, Stanislaus,” Nograwowicz said to his partner after the hand was over. “I made an error in my calculations.”
“I only wonder what you would have done if East had not played the jack on the ten of clubs,” Kowalski said.
“I have no choice but to ruff,” Nograwowicz said, “and if the jack doesn’t drop from West’s hand, well, I guess I just have to do better on the next hand.”