The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part LVII: Always the Count
By Ray Adams
Bridge buffs know that if they have any super power, it is their ability to count to thirteen. Most bridge buffs apply this power to the four suits of a card deck, but counting does not stop there. It can also be used to count the 40 high card points in a deck and thereby determine who holds which high card. No one has mastered this technique better than Porczouk Nograowicz of Team Porcupine.
The auction was rather simple. After West opened one diamond, Kowalski made a takeout double with his perfect distribution even though he may have been short a point or two. Nograwowicz had an excellent, fourteen point hand with four hearts and bid the red suit game.
West led the five of diamonds to the ace and East’s jack. Declarer took the trump finesse, losing to West’s king. Back came another trump, won with dummy’s queen. Nograwowicz was now certain that West had most of the missing spade honors, plus the king of clubs for the opening bid. He also surmised that West, with no diamond honors, must have more diamonds than clubs. He hoped that West had exactly four diamonds and two clubs and played the hand accordingly.
He cashed the ace of clubs and came to hand with the ace of hearts, drawing West’s last trump in the process. He then cashed the king and queen of diamonds, tossing two spades from dummy. Declarer now led a small club, hoping that his reasoning was correct and that West would be forced to win the king. This proved to be the case and West was end played, with no choice but to set up declarer’s king of spades or present him with a ruff and a sluff. Either way, Nograwowicz had his tenth trick and soon claimed this game contract.
Some readers may notice that West could have avoided the end play by jettisoning his king of clubs on declarer’s ace. However, had West done so, Nograwowicz had a counter punch. He had timed the hand so perfectly that he would now have sluffed two of dummy’s clubs on the king and queen of diamonds. Then he would have lost two spades and a trump instead of one spade, one club, and one trump and the result would have been the same. This was a thirteen imp swing for Team Porcupine and allowed them to win their match by nine imps. It was a fine result for a bridge buff who always has the count.