BBO Vugraph - The first day the Lederer Memorial Trophy

Vugraph #239

We are in London, where ten invited all-star teams have congregated at the RAC Club to contest the 2023 Lederer Memorial Trophy.

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.

After three matches, these are the standings:


Only one problem hand this week, and it’s an opening lead. You are South and hear the following auction:

What do you lead?

There are two matches left to play on Saturday, and we start with the Round 4 meeting between KNOTTENBELT and the defending champions, HARRIS.

The 2022 Lederer winners, HARRIS:

(left to right: Zia Mahmood, Mikael Rimstedt, Jonathan Harris, Steve Root, Dennis Bilde and Ola Rimstedt)

The action began on the very first deal. Although E/W have only a combined 27 HCP, the double-fit means that 6♣ needs little more a 3-2 trump split. Could anyone reach the top spot?

Once Maggie Knottenbelt had passed on the West hand, chances of reaching a slam were remote. Ollie Burgess opened 1 in fourth seat and Knottenbelt’s Drury 2♣ showed an invitational or better hand with three-card heart support. It is hard to imagine bidding anything other than 4 on that East hand. South led the ♠K, so declarer was able to ruff a spade, draw trumps, and claim all 13 tricks once clubs behaved. E/W +510.

Was there ever any doubt that Zia (left) would open the West hand? He raised hearts at his second turn and, when Dennis Bilde asked for more information with an artificial 2♠, Zia showed a minimum opening bid with only three hearts. Bilde now advanced with an ostensibly natural 3, and Zia raised, which encouraged Bilde to jump to slam in hearts. That left Michael Byrne with the opening lead problem posed at the top of this article.

It is certainly not easy to find the necessary diamond lead after this auction. Indeed, a holding such as Q-x-x is hardly an attractive opening lead at the best of times, and certainly not after the opponents have bid and raised the suit. Byrne led the obvious ♠K, and declarer claimed as soon as clubs behaved. +1010 meant the BAM points and 11 IMPs to HARRIS.

The other VuGraph match in this round is IRELAND against the leaders, EDMONDS. The opening deal was flat at E/W +510 in this match, but it was not long before another potential slam board came along…

Tommy Garvey opened with a multi-purpose 1♣ for the Irish, but the meaning of the rest of the auction is shrouded in mystery (and should probably remain so). Presumably, East showed something like 17-19 or 18-19 balanced so, despite his uninteresting shape, it still looks a little timid of West not to make any sort of try beyond game. Under no pressure, Garvey made a quick eleven tricks: E/W +460.

Michal Klukowski opened a three-way Polish Club and showed the Strong Club variation with his 2 rebid. By the time the auction got to 3NT, Klukowski had shown 18-19 balanced with three spades but not four hearts. Armed with that information, Piotr Zatorski (right) raised himself to slam.

Declarer starts with only ten top tricks, but he quickly gets up to eleven when he wins the heart opening and cashes two high clubs, dropping South’s singleton nine. Zatorski crossed to his hand with a high diamond and ran the ♣10. South could discard the Q on the fourth round of clubs, but the end was nigh. Declarer cashed the ♠A and then ran the ♠9 to North’s queen, and the forced heart exit then squeezed South in the pointed suits. E/W +990 meant the BAM points and 11 IMPs to EDMONDS.

EDMONDS won the IMP battle 14-9 and the match 30-20. With 131 VPs from four matches, they were half a match clear of the field. Trailing them were KNOTTENBELT (112 VPs) and GILLIS (110 VPs). The GILLIS move towards the top came to a grinding halt in the final Saturday match. Events at the first table looked normal enough:

David Bakhshi’s jump to 3NT seems like the practical action. West led a heart and Christian Bakke won to play a second round. Declarer simply played three rounds of diamonds, establishing dummy’s long card in that suit as his ninth trick. N/S +600.

Opening pre-empts seem to be getting weaker and weaker, but this is one of the more outrageous efforts I’ve seen recently.

Arthur Malinowski (left) is well-known for his imagination, but the decision to describe that West hand as a weak two in diamonds in pushing the boat out, even by his standards. His timing could not have been better, as he caught his opponents with a pair of weak no-trump hand types, both of which had too many diamonds to make a takeout double.

Malinowski drifted four down in his 4-1 fit, no doubt laughing all the way to the bank. N/S +200 meant the BAM points and 9 IMPs to DeBOTTON.

DeBOTTON won the match 44-1 in IMPs and 45-5 VPs.

With five matches in the book, Saturday’s play came to a close with the standings looking like this:


Take off the top and bottom teams, and the field is well and truly bunched, with fewer than 20 VPs separating second place from ninth. The big question overnight is, “Can anyone stop the leaders going from post to post?”

We will be back soon to answer that question as we bring you the best of the action from Sunday’s concluding matches.

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