All top players like to receive an invitation to the Lederer Memorial Trophy in London. It is a most enjoyable weekend, with a social atmosphere and top-level bridge.
This year the location was new: the elegant Royal Automobile Club.
There were 10 teams playing a round robin of 10-board matches. The winners were the sentimental favorites, the President’s team, which contained three senior statesmen of British bridge: Bernard Teltscher, Victor Silverstone and Willie Coyle. Tony Priday, a nonagenarian, was also scheduled to play, but had to withdraw at the last minute because of ill health. His place was taken by Phil King. Stelio Di Bello and Tom Townsend were the third pair.
They finished nearly one match ahead of the English women’s team: Heather Dhondy, Nevena Senior, Fiona Brown, Susan Stockdale, Sally Brock and Barry Myers (substituting for Nicola Smith).
The diagramed deal featured a gain for the winners that was nothing earth-shattering, but highlighted taking a calculated risk.
In the given auction, Di Bello (South) opened one no-trump in the fourth position. Townsend (North) responded three spades, showing a three no-trump response with four hearts and fewer than four spades. (The theory is that if the opener rebids three no-trump, the defenders do not know whether he has four spades or not, which they would know after a normal Stayman sequence.)
Against four hearts, if West had led his singleton club, declarer would have had to play a heart to dummy’s ace and a heart, not taken a first-round finesse — a tall order. After West chose to start with the diamond jack, South won with his ace and played a heart to dummy’s eight. East took the trick with his queen and shifted to the club eight. When West dropped the queen under South’s ace, declarer unblocked dummy’s nine.
Declarer ran his heart jack. East won and led another club. South won with the king, breathed a sigh of relief when West discarded a spade, and unblocked dummy’s club seven. Declarer played a heart to dummy’s ace, overtook the club five with his six, and claimed an overtrick, dummy’s spade disappearing on a club.
At the other table, Silverstone (East) opened one spade in the third position. This might have backfired, but was a gamble that many experts would have taken. South doubled, Teltscher (West) raised to four spades, North doubled to show some values, and all passed.
The defenders took one trick in each suit for down one. It was the best they could do, given that it was impossible to reach four no-trump, the last making contract for North-South.
Plus 650 and minus 200 gained the President’s team 10 international match points on the board.