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News from the Bridge Room in Bournemouth

Host Report by Jane & James Tullett

We had a lovely four day break on the south coast, and considering the time of year, the weather was kind for us. Many of the guests enjoyed strolls along the beach, pier and winter gardens. In addition, the Christmas  Market opened the weekend before we arrived and provided some festive cheer and colour.

Our director, Andrew Kambites, enjoyed being reunited with guests who have been regular First for Bridge customers who he initially met several years ago. The same jokes he shared a decade ago were revisited but the guests politely laughed and reminisced previous bridge hands and travel experiences.

The Collingwood Hotel staff made us very welcome and we appreciated the waiter service every evening with a good selection of desserts to round off the meal. We enjoyed the indoor pool and sauna to ease away any post bridge (or pre- bridge) tension! It was lovely to have Val and Justine from the Arena office join us on the final evening, with lots of laughter in the bar after the final hands of the holiday.

Prize Winners

(Click on the images below to see captions)

Director’s Report by Andrew Kambites

Hands like this, from the Bournemouth multiple teams, can generate huge swings at teams. North/South can make 6♠ and East/West can make 5♣ unless North/South find heart ruffs, which is likely to prove very difficult. Nobody can give you definitive right/wrong sequences but it is instructive to look at some of the thought processes.

North/South vulnerable. Dealer East

Should East open 3♣? Some people regard it as heresy to pre-empt when you have a 4-card major as well but there are a lot of experts who would look at the factors that might make it profitable to put pressure on opponents: the weakness of the hand,  the favourable vulnerability and the potential that North/South have a big spade fit, in particular.

If East opens 3♣ then South should bid 4♣, showing at least 5-5 in the major suits. Admittedly South is not strong enough to guarantee game but South has to assume North has some help and it is worth overbidding to show both suits. Experience has taught me that if I have two 5-card suits then partner is likely to have reasonable support in one of my suits and shortage in the other, allowing me to ruff losers in dummy so two-suiters often play well. What is the alternative to 4♣? Double will never allow me to show 5-5 shape and may well result in an unwelcome jump in diamonds by partner. How about if I overcall 3♠? If partner has a singleton spade and four hearts I may well end off going off in 3♠ with 4♥laydown.

If South bids 4♣ the auction is likely to proceed as in auction A until West’s second bid. As West decides whether or not to bid 6♣ he has so much to consider, including whether he may push North/South into a making 6♠. At this stage nobody is likely to know who can make what. If West does bid 6♣ what does North do? Note that double would be for penalties, not a Lightner double looking for a heart ruff. North should have good indications based on the East/West bidding to guess that South is likely to have at most one club so losing two club tricks shouldn’t be a problem. I would bid 6♠, fully aware that I may be turning a small plus into a small minus but this is a reasonable insurance policy at teams. What I cannot afford is to allow East/West to make 6♣ when my side could have made 6♠. So auction A is possible.

How about if East passes as dealer? South opens 1♠, West doubles and North has a lot of options.

I play all single jumps in a new suit in a competitive auction as fit jumps, showing a  good fit with partner’s suit and a bulky side suit with good intermediates so 3♦, intending to bid 4♠ next time, is an option. The disadvantage of this is that it allows East to bid hearts or clubs cheaply, and the North hand has lots of offence (playing in spades) and little or no defence to a club or heart contract.

Another option is a double jump to 4♥. A double jump is a splinter, showing a singleton heart, and good spade support. Again quite descriptive (although it doesn’t show the void heart) but it does allow East to double 4♥ and maybe encourage a sacrifice.

My preferred (I would say pragmatic) option would be 4♠. Yes I might miss a slam but the North hand has so little defence that I would give priority to trying to keep East out of the auction.

If East tries to sacrifice in 6♣ then North has a similar decision as in auction A. Again I would prefer to bid 6♠ rather than let non vulnerable opponents play in 6♣ and my reasons would be very similar to auction A. Turning a small plus into a small minus is unlikely to cost much, while a possible double-slam swing would be very costly.

If East is allowed to play in clubs and North/South fail to find heart ruffs the play of the heart suit is interesting. East can avoid a heart loser by starting with the ♥Q. South covers, West wins the ♥A and North shows out. East returns to hand and leads a heart. South must insert the ♥7, otherwise dummy’s ♥6 wins the trick. West wins the ♥10 and subsequently has ♥J 6 sitting over South’s ♥9 5 5.  Starting with the ♥Q loses if South started with the ♥K singleton so in auction B perhaps declarer might get it wrong, but after auction A East should certainly play the hearts in this way.

The hand was played 10 times. North/South always bought the hand in a spade contract.
Once North/South bid a slam: 6♠ making: +1430
Once North/South played in 5♠ doubled + 1:  +1050.
Eight times North/South scored 4♠ + 2:  +680.

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