Like many of us in the bridge community I was slightly anxious about my first return to a bridge holiday. I needn’t have worried as Chesford Grange Hotel was an excellent venue. Spacious sitting areas for relaxing and discussing Bridge included a large outdoor terrace, gardens with tables and the grounds were lovely with walks on easy woodland paths in many directions. The hotel had a large indoor pool and spa facilities that were complimentary for our guests, while the bridge room was large, bright, spacious and well ventilated. Meals in the evening were waiter service and of a high standard with staff working flat out to ensure our bridge sessions started on time. All staff throughout the hotel were eager to please and always smiling.
The location was superb for visiting interesting places very easily. A 15-minute bus ride from outside the hotel took people to Coventry where the impressive cathedral was much admired. A 10-minute drive in either direction afforded great opportunity to learn about local history with Kenilworth and Warwick Castles visited by many. Slightly further afield was Stratford upon Avon with its lovely river, park and shops.
Guests quickly remembered how to enjoy face to face bridge and the holiday allowed us all to feel a degree of normality was returning to our lives. Many guests took the opportunity to ask visiting FFB staff about future holidays both at home and overseas. Welcome back bridge holidays and friends and hope to see you all again soon!
Our week in Kenilworth was an intriguing re-introduction to face- to-face directing for me. All those law-book rulings that have not been a feature of online bridge for the last 18 months: revokes, leads and bids-out-of-turn and even a decision on whether a replacement bid was “comparable” – it was.
This was an interesting hand, from the second night, which helped to illustrate the theme for the seminars – trump management and overall planning as declarer.
I will show just the NS hands to start with and tell you that 6 pairs out of 14 were in 4♥ by North and most of the rest were in 2♥ or 3♥ (we can analyse the bidding in a moment). The handcopy indicates North can make the 10 tricks needed in 4♥. Lead: ♣3 from East
Before reading on decide on your plan of action to make 4♥ given that you have 2 certain losers in the outstanding aces.
I have been a bit unfair, so far, since I have not given you the typical bidding sequence. Remember your plan and see whether you want to make any adjustments when you see the bidding:
Without the double from East I think South might well bid ♣3 with 8 losers, but the double inspires South to up the pressure by bidding 4 with the 4 card support, singleton and good Club suit over the doubler. For those reasons I think it would be understandable for South to bid to game even without the double.
So: Lead: 3. What is your plan now? Decide before reading further.
You still have the 2 aces to lose and the double suggests that East has both as well as a shortage in Hearts. You can afford to lose 1 Heart trick but not 2. If Hearts divide 3 -1 you are fine as long as the club finesse works (likely, given the double by East putting him with the missing ♣K).
What if West has all 4 missing Hearts? You will need to make 2 Clubs, 2 Spades (hoping for East to have ♠AJ) and then to make 6 Heart tricks so you do not want to draw 4 rounds of Hearts. You will need to lead twice from the South hand for finesses so on the initial lead of ♣3 put in the ♣10 and play the ♣9 from your hand. When this wins, lead the ♥7 and, if West plays the ♥5, play the ♥4 from hand and allow the ♥7 to run. If it wins (i.e. East is void in Hearts) then you can draw 2 more trumps, leaving West with the master trump and hence avoiding using 2 of your trumps for West’s master.
If your initial Heart lead loses to an honour in West’s hand then you will be able to draw the remaining trumps with the ♥AK.
The actual hand was:
Careful play is still needed. If you haven’t yet used Bridge Solver Online then you can investigate the play for all scenarios. You can see the play for the Kenilworth Championshop Pairs Qualifier here... simply select 'scorecards' and then 'hand 16' to investigate the play.
Just for the record: Only 3 pairs made 10 tricks on the night and of those only one pair had actually bid 4♥ to give a near top score (One EW pair was in 4♠ going 5 off).