The Adventures of Team Porcupine, Part XXI: A Coup a la Nograwowicz
By Ray Adams
All followers (and critics) of Team Porcupine know of Stanislaus Kowalski’s propensity to overbid when he knows his partner, Porczouk Nograwowicz will be playing the hand. Another example of this recently came up.
In the auction, Kowalski chose to support his partner’s spade suit with only three, even though it was quite possible Nograwowicz had no more than four. West led the four of hearts and, many players in laying down the dummy, would have said to their partner something like, “Sorry, partner, I owe you a spade.” But not Kowalski, who was not known for justifying his bidding. In fact, as he spread his cards, he carefully kept his eyes turned down, avoiding seeing any reaction on Nograwowicz’s part. Of course, Nograwowicz was so used to Kowalski’s bidding he simply regarded the dummy as though it was a gift from the Great Shuffler, and in fact, was probably pleased that Kowalski had supported him with more than two spades.
The heart lead was taken by dummy’s ace and a club went to declarer’s jack and West’s ace. West continued the heart attack, dummy’s king winning. Nograwowicz now made the key play of a low spade from dummy. East felt compelled to duck and declarer’s queen won the trick. Nograwowicz now cashed the ace and king of diamonds, sluffing the remainder of dummy’s hearts. He then ruffed a diamond in dummy.
Dummy’s king of clubs was cashed, declarer tossing a diamond. He also threw a diamond on the subsequent lead of the queen of clubs. West ruffed this with the lowly three of trumps. West would have done well to lead a diamond at this point, but instead exited with the jack of hearts. This presented East with the choice of either ruffing or tossing a club. Eventually East discarded his last club, allowing declarer to ruff this trick low.
Nograwowicz now ruffed his last diamond with dummy’s ace. At trick twelve, the lead was in the dummy and East had to play from the king and nine of trumps in front of declarer’s jack and six. Nograwowicz had made this unlikely game on a coup en passant, or what Kowalski likes to call a “coup a la Nograwowicz”.
The contract of 3NT was down two at the other table, allowing Team Orange to gain 13 imps on this hand in a match they only won by 6 imps. Team captain Stari Pas commented after the match that perhaps they had won not because of a Coup a la Nograwowicz but by a bidding Coup a la Kowalski.