The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part LVIII: Kowalski Ignores Critics
By Ray Adams
Many critics of Team Porcupine single out Stanislaus Kowalski as the weak link in the team’s lineup. They frequently say things like, “Kowalski has no concept of decent bidding,” or, “Kowalski bids like a wild man from Borneo,” or “Sewage stinks and so do Kowalski’s bids.” None of these unkind comments, however, have ever had any effect on Kowalski – and for good reason. He only makes wild bids when he knows his partner, Porczouk Nograwowicz, will be playing the hand. And Nograwowicz has a habit of making Kowalski’s wildest bids look good.
In the above auction, many Norths would have bid either 3♥ at their second turn to suggest a 3NT contract, or even bid 3NT themselves. And of course, 3NT would have been an excellent game. But when Kowalski realized Nograwowicz would be at the helm, he jumped to 4♣, suggesting a possible minor suit slam. Nograwowicz needed no further prompting.
West led the queen of hearts, declarer sighing to himself and wondering how he could possibly make this hand. Hard thought brought him to the conclusion that he might bring it home if East had the ace of diamonds and clubs split no worse than 4-1.
He won dummy’s king of hearts and led a diamond at trick two, East ducking and South’s king winning. He played a small club to dummy’s nine, happy to see both defenders follow. Another diamond induced East to take his ace and exit with a heart. Declarer won his ace and cashed the queen of diamonds, sluffing dummy’s last heart. Nograwowicz’s concentration – sometimes called “impossible” by his teammates – caused him to notice that his eight of diamonds was now high, the ace, king, queen, jack, ten, and nine having all dropped. He now had hope.
He ruffed a heart in dummy with the queen, led the four of clubs to his ten, ruffed his last heart with the ace, and returned to his his hand with the ace of spades. He then drew the last two trumps with his king and jack, and claimed, the eight of diamonds beating East’s six on the last trick.
As long as Nograwowicz plays hands like this, the criticisms of Kowalski’s bidding will probably bounce off his back like a ping pong ball off a paddle.