The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part LVI: A Backwards Smother

The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part LVI: A Backwards Smother

By Ray Adams

Porczouk Nograwowicz of Team Porcupine recently had an opportunity to execute a very r


After Kowalski raised him to 4, Nograwowicz bid his meager values a third time, boosting himself to the diamond game. After all, this was a team competition and vulnerable games can score many more imps than partials.

West led the king of spades. This won and the spade continuation was taken by East’s ace. East tried to cash a third spade, but declarer ruffed, then drew trumps in two rounds. Next came the top three clubs, both opponents following to all three leads. Nograwowicz now took time to count out the hand. East appeared to have started with three spades only, two diamonds, and at least three clubs. West had begun life with five spades, two diamonds, and at least three clubs. This left five unknown cards in the East hand and only three in the West.

Declarer reasoned that East’s original holding might have been 3-4-2-4, while West’s might have been 5-2-2-4. If this were true, East had twice as many hearts as West and was twice as likely to hold the queen. Thus, the normal looking play of leading a heart to the jack to make the contract would probably fail But if East did hold the queen, Nograwowicz still needed a little bit of luck to bring this bold contract home. West had to hold exactly the ten doubleton of hearts!

Nograwowicz shrugged and led a heart to the ace, then advanced the jack of hearts from dummy, taking the finesse backwards. East did cover with the queen, and declarer played his king looking to his left anxiously. Yes! West’s ten dropped and dummy’s nine of hearts took the eleventh and game-going trick. Nograwowicz had done it again.

This backwards smother play allowed Team Porcupine to pick up 13 imps and led them to yet another victory.



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