News from the Bridge Room at the 5* Raga Side, Turkey

Host report by Ro Kaye

From the moment the coach pulled up outside the Raga Side Hotel we could not have been made more welcome. The staff could not do enough for the guests and wanted to get everything just right. Guests loved the wonderful cakes and Turkish delight, chocolate raisins and cornettoes freely available all day. The free laundry once a week was an added bonus and all Arena guests quickly settled into the luxurious life-style. The restaurant service was very good and the choice between al la carte and the extensive buffet was superb.

The beach was a short stroll from the hotel and the warm sea was very inviting to many people. Others preferred to lounge on the sunbeds and use an app on their phone to summon waiters with snacks and drinks. The all-inclusive package was excellent value and contributed to the friendliness of the holiday. The majority of us retired to the bar after bridge! Those who wanted to visit the speciality restaurant instead of bridge could enjoy the entertainment provided by the hotel which included traditional dancing, singers, and music.

Side beach, a short stroll from the hotel

Side, with its quaint harbour village, historic sites and interesting shops was a short level stroll away along the sea front. Many guests were tempted to start their Christmas shopping early  because of the keen prices of bags, tee-shirts and jewellery. The group enjoyed a trip to an up market leather outlet where several purchased leather jackets.

But what of the bridge, I hear you ask? The large, well lit room, stocked with water, wine and snacks was an excellent venue for the sessions. Colin Simcox, a national director, had produced a varied and interesting programme and the atmosphere was friendly and welcoming.


There were tours to some of the many interesting historic sites in this region, including Antayla, Perge and Aspendos. Guests visited the local market in Side as well as the neighbouring one in Managvat.

Meanwhile back in the hotel we organised table tennis competitions, petanque matches and  generally enjoyed the pool, gym and spa.

All in all a perfect holiday. When I returned home to my bridge club word had spread (nine of my club came out to Turkey). I was greeted with people saying that they wished they had gone because they had heard how good it was.

Twelve members of Wallingford Bridge Club came out for the second week of our stay. Why not bring a group from your bridge club next year?

Thanks to Rob Richardson and John Barker for hosting the holiday with me.

Prize Winners

(Click on the images below to see captions)

Director’s Report by Colin Simcox

Partly due to the Thomas Cook situation, and also because of some very good deals from regional airports, a dozen or so guests stayed on for a couple of days at the end of this holiday. The weather was still fabulous, but we managed to play a bit of bridge too.

The hotel’s finest restaurant could be booked once a week for a sumptuous 7-course dinner, and we took full advantage of this on the last night. Because we knew it would take up most of the evening, we played in the afternoon instead, and the following interesting hand appeared:

Dealer North, E-W vulnerable.  Teams scoring.

After a 1H opening, both teams came to rest in 5H, having discovered that at least the king of trumps was missing (north’s suit is pretty anaemic!)

Holding south’s cards opposite a 1H opening, I would be hoping that we had agreed to play splinters! This is a pretty reasonable hand – it has 4 trumps, some useful high cards and the singleton club. Bid 4C if methods allow, and you will be rewarded with 4D (hopefully the ace of diamonds, although it could conceivably be a void). This improves your hand, so why not co-operate with 4S? From north’s point of view this is excellent news – what more could you ask for? Our main worry now is the trump suit.

These are the sorts of hand where RKCB really comes into its own. We already know that there are no aces missing, so standard Blackwood won’t help. The worst case scenario is that south has neither KH or QH, in which case we can play in 5H. Holding at least one of them we want to be in slam (but probably not grand slam – that might be a bit too optimistic). Bid 4NT ….  whether you play 1430 or 3041 you will only go past 5H if partner has both heart honours, so there is no risk. If you are in the 1430 camp you will be smug – the 5C response here allows north to bid 5D as a QH enquiry. Those playing 3041 won’t have room and will just have a take a view.

So depending on methods and bullishness, in a larger field I would expect some pairs to reach 6H. Is it a good contract? I’m sure if you were North, you wouldn’t entirely despair when dummy went down. Obviously it would be nice if the QS were located somewhere else, or if there were a fifth diamond, but it could also be worse. There is clearly a trump loser (missing K, J and 10), but a second may well be avoidable – a single honour with west for example (as well as all 2-2 breaks).

A nondescript diamond (the 8?) is the likely lead (you can’t really expect a helpful club), which might lead you to think the suit is breaking 4-2 or 3-3. Count your winners – 4 diamonds and 2 black aces would mean making 6 trump tricks. Given that you have a certain loser, this is 2 ruffs in the south hand plus 4 tricks from north. Very promising. Win the lead in hand. Ace of clubs, club ruff. At some some point you are going to tackle trumps, and when you do it will be starting with the ace, so you may as well come back to hand that way. The king appears. Good news – with the queen in dummy this must be a singleton so you are all set to make the contract. Ruff another club, cash HQ and come to hand with a diamond ….. ruffed (not a problem) … and then the king of clubs is tabled (oops!). One off.

A good partner will say ‘bad luck partner, unlucky finding the 5-1 break in diamonds’. A less kind partner will look at the hand record and say ‘Deep says you should have made it partner.’ Of course if you finesse the club on the first round this would work, but would it have been better odds? I don’t think so. I think you should give yourself a pat on the back if you bid it using sensible methods, and consider yourself a bit unlucky.

P.S. It fails when diamonds are 4-2 also, but succeeds when 3-3 or whenever trumps are 2-2. Not bad odds.

P.P.S It doesn’t help to not cash HQ either- west will still ruff a diamond, exit with CK to force the HQ, thereby making a second trump trick instead.

Comments (1):

  1. Michael Whittaker

    December 14, 2019 at 8:57 am

    Colin, a better line is to think about a dummy reversal and ruff the spades out. A 2/2 heart break and you are home. Win with AD, cash the AH, and the 3/1 break appears. So cash AS , ruff a spade, over to QH, ruff another spade, now cash AC and play on diamonds, forcing West to ruff. if he doesn’t , then just continue with spade ruff and you are home.

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