We are back at the RAC Club in London for the second day of 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 five of the nine matches, these are the standings:
Take off the top and bottom teams, and the field is bunched tighter than well-organized grapes, 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?”
As usual, we start with some problems. Firstly, with only your side vulnerable, you are sitting in the East seat with:
What action, if any, do you take?
Next, you are West holding:
What action, if any, do you take?
First up against the overnight leaders are KNOTTENBELT. The comparison on our first deal was certainly unusual.
Jodi Edmonds opened a 15-17 1NT and Joel Wooldridge might have chosen to transfer and play the hand in 3♦, but he opted for what is perhaps the slightly eccentric decision to pass. It makes not a lot of difference at IMPs. 3♦ has ten tricks for +130 and 1NT, with whichever the suit the defence attacks breaking, is destined to make five diamonds and three aces. E/W +120, but might that difference cost EDMONDS the points on the BAM part of the scoring?
At the other table, East did transfer to diamonds…
An Australian now living in England, Kieran Dyke (left) is a fine player with international experience dating back two decades. He won a bronze medal in the Open Teams at the 2015 European Transnational Championships and he was a member of the England team that reached the quarter-finals of the 2022 Bermuda Bowl.
On this particular deal, though, his brain was temporarily taken over by cauliflower. With his maximum and a big diamond fit, it was not unreasonable for him to break the initial transfer to 3NT. However, when Michael Byrne retreated to 4♦, suggesting no game interest, Dyke ploughed on with a 4♥ cue-bid. Again, Byrne signed off, but Dyke decided he was worth one more go, and raised to slam. The man has perhaps spent too much time sitting in the hot sun watching the Australian cricket team 😊
Byrne managed to make the ten tricks to which he was entitled, but E/W -200 meant the BAM points and 8 IMPs to EDMONDS.
Accurate timing is often vital in the play of a hand, but it can also be important in the bidding. In a competitive auction, the quicker you can reach your final destination, the less likely it is that the opponents will do the right thing. Both East players had to decide what to do on the first of this week’s problem hands…
Joel Wooldridge chose to overcall in his moderate five-card major. Ben Handley-Pritchard made a negative double, Jodi Edmonds showed an invitational or better three-card spade raise, and Maggie Knottenbelt competed to 2♥. How many spades would you bid now? Never shy, Wooldridge went for the jugular with a jump to game. North might have doubled on the way out, but perhaps she decided that her trump holding was not well placed.
Only an opening trump lead legitimately beats 4♠ by two tricks, but Handley-Pritchard opened with a low heart. Declarer won with the ♥A and led dummy’s diamond. North rose with the ♦A and continued hearts, forcing declarer to ruff. (A trump switch is no better.) The ♦K was followed by a third round of diamonds, ruffed with the ♠9 and overruffed with the ten. A third round of hearts forced declarer to ruff and a fourth diamond was ruffed with the ♠J. To beat the contract, North must decline to overruff this. Would you have found that winning defence?
Knottenbelt didn’t either. She overruffed with the queen and continued with a fourth heart, ruffed by declarer. Wooldridge could now have made the contract if he reads the trump layout, by crossing to dummy with the ♣A and taking a trump finesse. When, instead, he laid down the ♠A, he was back to one down. An exciting N/S +100.
Sometimes described as mercurial, truly gifted flair players come along less often than once in a generation. Irving Rose, Gabriel Chagas and Zia Mahmood have all been described thus, and Michal Klukowski (right as a teenage protégé) has surely joined that exclusive list. When he first arrived on the scene, he appeared to have something resembling a huge crown of broccoli on his head. Now no longer a junior (at last), and a new father also to boot, Justyna has clearly found him a barber. Not that he is yet in danger of being mistaken for Simon de Wijs.
Michael Byrne chose to overcall in his six-card minor, which had the effect of slowing down the auction. Kieran Dyke had nothing to say over Klukowski’s double (showing hearts, rather than negative, perhaps, although we got no explanation in the hand records), and Piotr Zatorski jumped to 2♥ to show a minimum with four hearts. Now Byrne bid his spades. Klukowski competed to the three-level and Dyke came to life with a value-showing double. Byrne finished bidding out his shape and Dyke raised to game, but Zatorski had heard enough and wielded the axe.
The double in itself was enough to win the BAM points on the board, but could the Poles also score an extra trick to collect more than a couple of IMPs? Klukowski opened a club, declarer winning with the ace to play dummy’s diamond. Zatorski won with the ♦A and switched to the ♠K. Declarer won, overtook the ♥J with dummy’s queen, and cashed the ♥A. A heart ruff was followed by the ♦K and a third round of diamonds, ruffed with the ♠9, but Zatorski overruffed with the ♠10 and cashed the ♠Q. A heart now forced declarer’s penultimate trump and, when Klukowski came in with the ♦Q, he could then force declarer again in clubs, promoting North’s ♠6 into the fifth defensive trick. N/S +500 and 9 IMPs to EDMONDS to go along with the BAM points on the board.
EDMONDS won the IMP-scoring 42-8 and the match 41-9., extending their lead at the top of the table. Big wins for PERICULO and BLACK move them to the front of the chasing pack. Third in hand after two passes, non-vulnerable against vulnerable opponents, is like a red rag to a bull. When you hold a bad hand, you know (or think you know) that the opponents can make at least a game. Who can resister the temptation to make life difficult for them? What, if anything, would you have opened on the second of this week’s problems?
Norwegian star Boye Brogeland (left) chose to start with a Multi 2♦, showing a minimum weak two in either major. Piotr Zatorski doubled on the strong hand and Christian Bakke joined in with a ‘pass-or-correct’ 2♥. When Brogeland revealed his suit, Zatorski decided 'enough messing around' and jumped to 3NT. It all came down to guessing the clubs and how the defenders’ spades split.
Bakke led a spade and Zatorski played three rounds of hearts. Winning with the ♥Q, Bakke continued spades. Now Zatorski play a club and Bakke put in the jack. Had declarer ducked, he would have been home, but Zatorski covered with the king. Brogeland won with the ♣A and cleared the spades. Bakke won the second round of clubs with the queen and still had a spade left. The defence had two spades, two clubs and a heart: one down, N/S -100.
Zach Grossack preferred to open 1♠ on the West cards. Erik Saelensminde doubled and Joel Wooldridge’s 2♥ transfer showed a constructive spade raise or better. Simon Gillis joined in with 3♣ and Grossack brazenly competed to the three-level. (Perhaps a Pass would have been more encouraging?) Saelensminde bid 3NT and Wooldridge doubled, but Grossack did not think he could stand that, so he took the save in 4♠.
The defence started with three rounds of trumps. To score the maximum, Saelensminde then needs to continue with a low diamond, making use of his partner’s ♦J. That was just too tough and, when instead he played the ♦A and a second diamond, declarer was out for three down. The extra undertrick would not have been worth much though: N/S +500 meant the BAM points and 12 IMPs to GILLIS.
However, that was the only good board in the match for the Anglo-Norwegian outfit, and EDMONDS won 34-16. Another big win for BLACK, 44-6 against KNOTTENBELT, moved them clear of the rest into second place, but still aways behind the leaders.
With just two matches left to play, these are the standings:
The final two matches for BLACK will be against HARRIS and IRELAND, whilst the leaders have still to play two teams languishing near the bottom, DeBOTTON and HINDEN.
We will be back soon with the best of the action from the final two rounds.
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