After enduring 15 months of semi and full national lock down, when asked to host the first return to a face to face bridge holiday, I was feeling excited but at the same time a degree of trepidation.
On arrival at the hotel, the staff were very helpful and the bar/ lounge looked clean and bright. The bridge room is newly refurbished, spacious with plenty of windows and excellent lighting for playing bridge. I am sure that we can easily have 20 tables in the room and still have room to spare. However we restricted the numbers to 10 tables which comfortably met the current organized activity guidance for holidays.
In the dining room, it was all waiter/waitress service, and we had a good choice of breakfast and dinner menu. Its hard to fault their efficiency and the quality of food served during our stay.
The Trouville Hotel is situated right on the sea front at Sandown, you just have to cross the road and you are at the beach. You can hire deckchairs, sun loungers and windbreaks at a reasonable price. We were blessed with good weather with only short intervals of light rain. On the days of beautiful sunshine and light breeze, you can enjoy the magnificent skyline and panoramic sea views which took my breath away. Most of our guests came by car and spent most days out exploring the island in their cars, cycling, walking or taking the bus (senior citizen free).
There are some top class English Heritage historic places on the Island, including Osborne House, Carisbrooke Castle, Appuldurcombe House and Yarmouth Castle. Guests who took a trip out to visit these places had all suggested they had a wonderful time. We visited Alum Bay and the Needles
Batteries where Marconi made some of his earliest radio transmissions.
We offered four afternoon bridge sessions during this holiday but we only ran one session as we did not have enough guest to make up even one table on the other days, due to the fine weather and alternative attractions. Most of our guests preferred to enjoy themselves exploring the Island, sunbathing on the beach or sitting in the hotel lounge relaxing with a good book.
My initial trepidation melted away with the brilliant weather, tranquillity of the sea and friendly guests. I definitely would like to go back to the Island as there are plenty more places I would like to explore.
Everybody on tour was happy to reacquaint themselves with the unfamiliar feeling of holding real cards in their hands. This may account for the almost 100% turnout for evening bridge. The subject of the seminar was defence, and I was able to include a useful example from hand 8 of the Championship Pairs Qualifier. At all tables Wests played in Spades at the 2,3 or 4 level.
How do we plan our defence? First we must work out what partner's hand is likely to be. As he has passed throughout the auction we need to deduce it from what our helpful opposition has told us. I asked the audience at the seminar to describe East's hand and they had no difficulty telling me that it
is about 16 HCP (points) with a good 6+ Spade suit. From this we can deduce that partner has about 4 HCP almost certainly in the minors (we can see all the Heart honours).
What about partner's lead? The only Hearts I cannot see are 458. The 7 could be singleton or doubleton. If it is from a 3 card suit do I need to worry about the length in dummy? I believe not as the only possible entry to dummy is diamonds and I have the ace.
What is our aim? To take 5 tricks and defeat the contract.
Where are our 5 tricks? 2 Hearts hopefully on the lead. Ace of diamonds, King of clubs if we can force declarer to play them from his hand. What about number 5? Partner has a few points. Could he have the A or Q clubs? Or the K diamonds and/or J of Spades?
Plan Take trick 1 by covering whatever card is played from dummy. Cash the master heart and if declarer follows both he and partner will be void. Play our last Heart forcing declarer to either rough high and, if partner has J or Q, promote my ten, or rough low and risk an over rough. That is 3 tricks.
I must now wait for declarer to play a minor out of hand. Can you see what will happen? If he plays a club I take my K and cash the A diamonds. This is unlikely as he clearly has honours to protect in the suit. If he plays a diamond I expect my partner to go up with the King if he has it. If he has not got it his points are in clubs and I can take my ace of diamonds and underlead the King of clubs.
As with declarer play things can go wrong, such as a singleton Heart allowing declarer to rough at trick 2, but you can see that with a bit of thought at trick one we can plan a defence in the same way as declarer plans the hand.
What if North had lead ten of clubs? Remember we have deduced that he must have about 4 HCP.
Would he have underled an unsupported ace? Unlikely.
Can he have the jack if he led the ten? Unlikely.
Would he lead queen from QT or QTx? This is a bit more difficult, but with so few points and sitting under most of the opposition points he will know that this is likely to give away a cheap trick, so we can deduce declarer's holding in clubs and we will know that we must duck, and try to keep forcing declarer to lead into our hand.
The clubs will start to reopen soon, Boris willing.
Enjoy your bridge