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News from the Bridge Room in Tenerife, Jan 2020

Host Report by Rob Richardson

The Canary Islands in January provide, for our guests, a glorious break from the British (and Irish……oh and Swedish) weather. The daytime temperatures in Puerto de la Cruz were in the 20’s (yes that is centigrade) for our entire stay with accompanying sunshine on most days.

The H10 Tenerife Playa Hotel is ideally situated amongst the bars and shops of the town centre overlooking a small bay with beaches of jet black volcanic sand, and almost constant Atlantic waves crashing over the rocks.

Tenerife has an extensive cheap, frequent and reliable bus service which many of our guests took advantage of to visit other towns such as Santa Cruz, the island capital, La Laguna a former capital, Orotava, a pretty village on the hill side above Puerto de la Cruz, and Garrachico which was the island’s main port prior to the harbour being destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1706.

The organised trip was up Mount Teidi, the highest peak in Spain, and the third highest volcano in the World. This forms the huge national park in the centre of the island with a landscape that has attracted many science fiction film makers over the years.

Prize Winners

Director’s Report by Andrew Kambites

Board 1 in the championship pairs qualifying competition provided some complex card play.

Love all. Dealer North

This bidding sequence seems reasonable enough. When South rebids 2♦ he promises at least 5 hearts and 4 diamonds. If South decides to bid on over 3♦ he should try hearts again. This shows a sixth heart and North raises to game. So should 4♥ make?

Assuming South has a spade loser and two diamond losers. He cannot afford a heart loser.  Look at the heart suit in isolation. With 5 hearts missing including the queen it looks right for South to finesse if he can, but should he cash the ♥A first to cater for West having a singleton ♥Q?  It depends on how many entries he has to dummy.

Suppose South has two entries to dummy. He should use them to finesse hearts twice. Admittedly he will pay off to West having a singleton ♥Q but it is four times more likely that West will have a small singleton. This would leave East with a holding of ♥Q x x x and declarer would need to finesse twice.

Now suppose South has only one entry to dummy. He cannot finesse hearts twice so he might as well cash the ♥A before crossing to dummy to finesse. Bingo! The ♥Q falls under the ♥A.

Alternatively suppose South has no entry to dummy. He cannot finesse hearts so he has no choice but to cash the ♥A K. Again bingo when the ♥Q falls singleton.

Of course South doesn’t know West has the singleton ♥Q and is going to want to somehow create an entry to dummy to take a finesse. And in this case it might be in the interests of the defenders to let him do so! West is likely to lead a spade on the above bidding. West is unlikely to have underled the ♠A so declarer calls for the ♠10. If East plays the ♠J South can only win the ♠K and give up on gaining an entry to dummy but East is likely to rise with the ♠A. South is delighted! He throws his ♠K under the ♠A. Now the ♠Q is an entry to dummy. South plans to cash the ♥A before using the ♠Q to finesse hearts and seems on course to succeed, unless East returns a spade! Now South has his entry to dummy but before he can cash the ♥A so he finesses his ♥J and loses to the singleton ♥Q.

A more likely, and equally effective defence is for East to cash the ♦A and then return a spade. That caters for legitimately beating the contract, for example if West has the singleton ♥A (or ♥K) which he can win and give East a diamond ruff.

How easy is this defence to find? It seems counter intuitive: It has considerable merit  once East thinks of it but I would expect the majority of Easts to cash the ♦A and switch to a trump. This gives declarer the chance to finesse twice so he might try the ♥J on the first round. That will lead to a swift two down because West will take the ♥Q, ♦K and give East a diamond ruff. A more thoughtful declarer might wonder why West would switch to a trump from ♥Q x x x, giving declarer the option to finesse twice. If a good defender gives declarer an option he didn’t have before, declarer might well be suspicious that taking that option is not likely to be to his advantage. On the other hand could East possibly realise that entries to dummy were a problem for declarer? From East’s point of view the ♣A K would normally provide an entry to dummy? Fascinating psychology! Wheels within wheels!

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