The Best Played Deal of the Lederer by Zia Mahmood

World Champion Zia Mahmood analyses the incredible deals in the Bridge History for Funbridge.

This month, the bridge legend explains the best played deal of the Lederer

The Lederer Memorial Trophy attracts almost all of the country’s top players, together with visitors from abroad. Prizes are awarded for the best played, bid and defended hands of the tournament, and today’s deal caught the eye of the judges. Game all, dealer West.

S  A J
H  Q 10 9
D  A K Q 10 8 4
C   9 2
S  5
H  8 7 6 4
D  J 9 7 6
C  K J 8 4
orientation S K Q 10 8 7 4 3 2
H A 5
D 3
C Q 10
S 9 6
H K J 3 2
D 5 2
C  A 7 6 5 3

When Espen Erichsen, a Norwegian who has lived in London for many years and represented England at international events, held the North cards he decided that they were worth a strong no trump opening. East overcalled the obvious four spades, and South’s double was showing values rather than purely for penalty. We are taught that when we have made a limited opening such as 1NT we leave future decisions to partner – but this was no ordinary 1NT opening, and Erichsen removed his partner’s double five diamonds. East led the king of spades and declarer won with the ace.

He laid down the ace of diamonds and next led the 10 of hearts from his hand. East won the ace of hearts, cashed the king of spades, and led the 10 of clubs. Erichsen put up dummy’s ace, led a diamond and finessed his 10, drew trumps and threw his losing club on dummy’s fourth heart. That was a very fine piece of card reading, and that won him the award of declarer play.

At the other table North opened a more orthodox one diamond, but after East’s overcall of four spades there was no further bidding and the same team had reached game at both tables. South led a trump, often the right idea when your side has the balance of power, but matters soon became complicated for the defence. North won the ace of spades, cashed the king of diamonds, and switched to a heart. East put up the ace, drew trumps and played the queen of clubs.

South won and led a second diamond rather than a heart, so declarer was able to ruff, discard his losing heart on a club and claim his contract for a double game swing. “Were you trying for the worst defended hand?” enquired North. “Not really,” said South mildly. “When you cashed the king of diamonds, I thought declarer had to have the queen or you would have played that card instead.