The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part LXII: A Porcupine Winkle
By Ray Adams
One of the more interesting plays in bridge is the winkle. This occurs when the opponents have enough tricks to set a contract, but are unable to cash them due to a blockage. Most likely, many declarers have stumbled onto winkles and later wondered how they made that contract. But when Porczouk Nograwowicz is involved, you can be sure, the winkle is no accident.
East’s 2♣ bid was alerted and explained as showing 5-5 in the majors. West led a spade and declarer ruffed the spade continuation. He led a diamond to dummy and ruffed dummy’s last spade. The queen of diamonds drew the last enemy trump and Nograwowicz now cashed out the heart suit, ending in hand. It certainly appeared that East had two clubs, as he had shown up with one diamond and presumably was 5-5 in the majors.
It was possible for West to hold both the ace and queen of clubs and a simple finesse would then bring the contract home. But Nograwowicz had a feeling that East might well hold the queen of clubs. If so, then there was another way besides the finesse to come to eleven tricks.
Regular readers of this blog know that if Nograwowicz has a choice between a simple finesse and a more dynamic play, he will always choose the latter. And that’s what he did on this hand. He led a club and when West played low, he inserted the king. When this held, he led a low club. East won his queen, but did not have another club to lead to set the contract. Instead, East had to lead a heart or a spade and give Nograwowicz a ruff and a sluff. Making five diamonds on a winkle!
Readers might notice that it would have done West no good to overtake his partner’s queen with his ace, for then dummy’s jack would have taken the game-going trick. The result on this hand picked up several imps for Team Porcupine and helped them win a close match.