Great BBO Vugraph Deals #140

Marc Smith visits the Lederer Memorial Trophy 

Ten invited all-star teams congregated at the RAC Club in London for the 2022 Lederer Memorial Trophy. For those who are not familiar with the event, the format is a complete round-robin of nine 10-board matches with a scoring method that is an unusual hybrid of Board-a-Match and IMPs. Each board is scored BAM style, with 2VPs for a win and 1 for a tie, giving a possible total of 20 VPs from each match. The IMP difference is then also converted to VPs on a 15-15 scale and each team’s two VP tallies are added together to produce an overall score for the match with a maximum win of 50-0. 

The pre-tournament favourites, ALLFREY, a team that includes two of the defending champions from the last pre-COVID running of the event two years ago, has already put down their marker with two big wins. These were the standings going into the Saturday afternoon session: 


As usual, we begin with some problems for you to consider. Firstly, with neither side vulnerable, you are South holding: 

What action do you take?  

Next, with just the opponents vulnerable, you hold as East: 

What do you bid? 

There were two BBO VuGraph matches in Round 3, including the top-of-the-table clash between leaders ALLFREY and the ace Norwegian outfit, ANDRESEN. The match started with a 10-IMP swing to the Norwegians, when Osborne understandably did not find a lead from K-x-x against a slam after an auction in which declarer had opened 2NT. Then came the first of this week’s bidding problems: 

Although many American players will be unfamiliar with openings such as this two-way 2♣, it and others like it are relatively common in much of Europe. The best way to defend against this particular opening is to treat it as if West has opened a weak 2, using a 2 cue-bid as the equivalent of a takeout double. What, therefore, do you make of the sequence chosen by North here? 

To me, it seems logical for North’s original double to promise clubs, and for his second double to just show extra values? Is this sequence therefore not analogous to (2)-3♣-(4)-Pass-(Pass)-Dbl? 

Yes, North may have four spades, and perhaps a 4-3-1-5 shape, but is his actual hand not more likely? And, even if does have that hand, isn’t 5 still likely to be a safe spot? I was therefore surprised to see Geir Helgemo bid 4 here. It did, though, provide the maestro with a chance to display his prowess.  

Robson led a top diamond, but he then gave declarer a chance by switching to a trump at trick two, rather than forcing dummy to ruff a diamond. East put in the Q and declarer won with the K. Helgemo led a second trump to dummy’s nine and, again, Allfrey correctly withheld his ace. At this stage, Helgemo conceded one down. Indeed, suppose declarer switches to clubs, East can ruff the second round, draw dummy’s last trump with the A, and cash a diamond. However, declarer missed that he could cross back to his hand with the first round of clubs and ruff his last diamond in dummy. Then, when he plays winning clubs, East can score no more than his two trumps as declarer is always a trick ahead of East in the forcing stakes. It just proves the old adage that even Homer nods. N/S -50 and, all in all, a very strange deal. 

At the other table, West’s ‘normal’ 2020s-style three-level opening forced North to take matters into his own hands: 

Graham Obsorne

Tor Eivind Grude opened what looks like a fairly standard 3, which virtually forced Graham Osborne to start with a double. When Christian Bakke’s raise to 4 then came back to him, Osborne took the practical shot of bidding game in his six-card suit. This contract essentially needs the ♠Q onside, surely a much better-than a 50% finesse on this auction, There was no drama in the play: N/S +400 and 10 IMPs to ALLFREY.  

A subtle play can sometimes make all the difference. Take a look at this deal:

Christian Blake

The latest product from a family of top-class bridge players, Christian Bakke first represented Norway in the Youngsters Teams at the 2011 European Youth Team Championships. In a glittering career as a junior, he collected four bronze and two silver medals from European and World championship team events. He made it onto the top step of the podium in his final year of eligibility, winning both the Junior Mixed Pairs at the 2018 European Championships and the Under-26 Board-a-Match Teams at the 2019 World Youth Championships. Christian made his debut in his country’s Open team in 2019 and he was the playing captain of BERGEN AKADEMISKE BK, the winning Norwegian representatives at the 2021 European Champions Cup. 

A brisk auction saw Bakke declaring 3-X on this deal. Looking at all four hands, it is clear that, with the club position as it is, declarer has four side losers, two clubs and two hearts. The trump layout is such that South can always make one trick in the suit by force. So, that’s one down, right? 

Tony Forrester led the 9. Holding a singleton ace in his hand, you might think it would make no difference which diamond declarer played from dummy at trick one, but a thoughtful play can sometimes reap a significant reward. 

When Bakke covered the nine lead with dummy’s 10, what would you make of the diamond position if you were sitting North? Who do you think has the missing 4? Would you not conclude that your partner has led a singleton nine and that declarer holds the doubleton? Graham Osborne duly covered with the Q and declarer won with the ace. At trick two, Bakke led a club to the king, Osborne winning with the ♣A. He then cashed the K, nine from declarer and six from South, followed by the Q.  

Accurate signalling has surely told North that declarer has a second heart – the king asked for a count signal, so why would partner follow with the six if he held J-10-7-6-3? Answer, he wouldn’t, so declarer must hold at least one more heart, so it is 100% safe to cash the A next. 

However, remember the seed that was earlier planted in North’s brain. Sure that his partner had led a singleton, Osborne tried to cash the K next. Disaster! Bakke ruffed, cashed the ♣J and ruffed his last club in dummy. He then played the established J, discarding the heart loser from his hand. Forrester could ruff, but it was with his natural trump winner. Finessing against South’s ♠Q, declarer scored the remaining tricks for a spectacular E/W +730. Had Bakke just followed with a low diamond from dummy at trick one, it would have been clear to North that it was declarer who held the singleton, and the contract would surely have been defeated. 

Andrew Robson thought more of the West hand than his counterpart at the other table had, and advanced with a value-showing spade raise via a 3 cue-bid. Both North’s double and Robson’s 3 bid were self-alerted as ‘having no agreement’, but logic obviously suggests that 3 is a further game try, which was duly accepted by Alexander Allfrey. Without the warning of the bad trump split, Allfrey started trumps by cashing the ace, and he subsequently ran out of steam having collected just seven tricks: E/W -300 and 14 IMPs to ANDRESEN. 

The B-a-M score was close, the Norwegians winning 11-9. However, they outscored the leaders 39-19 in IMPs, which translated into a match score of 35-15 VPs in favour of ANDRESEN. That hoisted them up into a tie for the lead, both teams on 102 VPs, with BLACK third on 85 and IRELAND fourth with 84. 

The VuGraph match for Round 4 was ANDRESEN against IRELAND, and Irish eyes certainly were not smiling after this early deal: 

Mark Moran was faced with the second of the problems posed at the top of this article. You have a massive hand facing an opening bid. However, partner opened 1♣, your singleton, and then rebid the suit three times before reluctantly admitting to a modicum of heart support. Moran not unreasonably decided that, despite 18 Miltons, the hand was not worth more than 3NT. Indeed, he was technically right in that 6NT would go down if North could find an albeit-unlikely spade lead. Christian Bakke led the 10 against 3NT, so Moran was quickly claiming twelve tricks: E/W +690. 

Martin Andresen

John Carroll

Mark Moran’s opening bid is hardly a thing of beauty, but I suppose we would all open it these days. John Carroll forced to game with 2♣, but I assume (from Moran’s 2 rebid rather than a club raise) that it did not guarantee a club suit at that stage. When Carroll then showed his spades at his second turn, he also showed that clubs was a real suit, and now Moran admitted to some support. Carroll probed for 3NT with a fourth-suit 3, but Moran deemed his hand more suited to a club contract. Carroll advanced with a 4 cue-bid and then got very excited when his partner showed a spade control... I guess he optimistically deduced that he would be able to make two or three spade tricks, with his robust spade suit facing a high honour (you’ll have to imagine the Irish accent as the thoughts go through his head), so out came RKCB. Never mind that a one key-card response commits us to slam, we have the luck of the Irish on our side J  

And quite right he was too, as partner not only produced the K, but also that vital 10-9. This meant that the contract depended just on finding South with the Q (and, of course, clubs breaking 2-2, as we may need to ruff a spade and a diamond in dummy, but trumps are sure to behave as we’re Irish).  

The best thing about the Irish boys, though, is that they are great to hang out with and, win or lose, they are always willing to share the black stuff. They saw off the Norwegian challenge in this match with victory by 36-14, and moved above their opponents into second place. It was now ALLFREY 122, IRELAND 120, ANDRESEN 116. Up into fourth place was HARRIS with 108, who hammered LONDON 41-9 in this round, thanks in large part to Jonathan Harris and Steve Root, who bid and made 6 on both of the boards we have just seen. (They and the Irish were the only two pairs to bid the second one, although half the field reached 6 on the first.)  

The VuGraph match for the last round Saturday featured LONDON against the CHAIRMAN’s TEAM (which is perhaps a shame, as the top two teams were playing each other). However, the Great Dealer decided that there had been quite enough excitement for one day, and produced a fairly dull set of boards. The only double-digit swing in our match came courtesy of some excellent declarer play in one room and... well, I’ll leave you to decide for yourself.  

Ben Green started with a transfer to diamonds and a shortage-showing jump to 3. Despite the balanced nature of his own hand, Stefano Tommasini sensibly ruled out 3NT as a contract and headed, instead, for game in the nine-card minor-suit fit.  

Declarer won the heart lead and showed good technique by immediately ruffing a heart in dummy. He then played the A and a second trump, getting the bad news that he had a loser in that suit. Many declarers would look no further than simply taking the two obvious black-suit finesses. Tommasini realized, though, that with South relatively short in both red suits, she was favourite to hold the black queens.  

Winning with the K, he ruffed a second heart and then played three rounds of clubs. Nathalie Shashou won with the ♣Q but was then endplayed to lead a black suit, either a club for a ruff-and-discard or a spade into dummy's tenace. Nicely played: E/W +600. 

With a diamond fit and stoppers in both majors, Glyn Liggins' main focus was to ensure that clubs were stopped, so he advanced with 3, showing something in that suit. That seemed to be exactly what Andrew Dyson needed to hear, so he essayed 3NT and Liggins obviously had no reason to move.  

Brian Callaghan led the Q and Liggins studied dummy. Tom Townsend, commentating on BBO VuGraph, predicted that declarer would 'clearly duck a couple of rounds of hearts and then safety play the diamonds into the safe South hand and score 11 tricks'. Liggins did, indeed, hold up the A until the third round. He then cashed the K and led the J. However, rather than taking the finesse to ensure the contract (unless North had led from a three-card heart suit) he rose with the A, perhaps mindful of the B-a-M element of the scoring. When David Burn discarded, the contract that had seemed routine had bitten the dust. Liggiins played a third round of diamonds in the hope that hearts would split 4-4, but it was not to be: E/W -100 and 12 IMPs to CHAIRMAN'S TEAM, who on a low-scoring match 39-11. 

'Well,' observed Tom in commentary, 'call Glyn what you like, but not predictable.' For my part, I am willing to go out on a limb and agree that predictable is not the adjective his teammates would have been using.  

A 35-15 win for ALLFREY over IRELAND gave them a moderate overnight lead. With five matches in the book and four left to play Sunday, these were the standings: 


We will be back next week with the best of the action from the opening matches on Sunday. 

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