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News from the Bridge room in Butterley, August 2021

Host Report by Rob Richardson

For this six day First for Bridge holiday, we were able to arrange two outings, away from the long awaited face to face bridge sessions.

Though it is unfortunate that we could not visit the Butterley Midland Railway, as it decided not to open weekdays, most of our guests enjoyed the train journey and scenery from Wirksworth to Duffield and back, on our late substitute.

Mr and Mrs Pearson kindly shared their experience with me:

“We visited the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway at Wirksworth and went on a preservation society managed former railway line which was closed to passengers in 1947 and closed to freight in the 1960’s when it ceased to carry stone from the surrounding quarries. The railway buildings had been dismantled and sold off by British rail and the line was completely overgrown. Pictures in the visitor centre and in the interesting museum show just how big a task faced the volunteers and just how much has been achieved in bringing this part of our industrial past back to life by the dedicated band of enthusiasts. All the staff we met were kind enthusiastic and happy to answer any and all questions.


We were hauled to Duffield, nine miles, by a re-built diesel locomotive pulling a rake of restored carriages some of which dated from 1953. There was a lot of activity in the yard as there were numerous locomotives, steam and diesel, and carriages being restored. At the time of our visit an immaculate Brush 4 diesel locomotive #1824 was on view. There were lots of interesting displays in buildings and carriages such as model railways, a shop, children’s play area, narrow gauge railways, ticket office. One of the latest projects is to build a new locomotive to match one of the original diesel locomotive built for the LMS. An interesting and enjoyable place to visit.”
Some of our guests managed to get on the First Class carriage, enjoying a cuppa

We left Wirksworth station headed to Matlock Bath for lunch where there were at least a dozen fish and chips shops/ restaurants you can choose from. Although most of them were right next to each other, they were very busy with a large number of tourists and bikers enjoying their lunch. Some of our guests enjoyed a walk by the river bank with delicious ice creams in the hand.

Matlock Bath is set in the beautiful gorge of the river Derwent

On the second day trip we paid a visit to Buxton, home of Buxton water. It was unfortunate that we couldn’t visit the inside of the Opera house, as there was a performance in progress. In the Opera House conservatory there are a variety of beautiful plants, it’s a short walk but it feels as if you have entered a tropical garden. Outside, the Pavilion Gardens is a lovely place to walk.

St Anne’s Well where some of us had a free taste of Buxton Water

The next stop was a visit to Chatsworth House. We were lucky that we had relatively good weather apart from a few drops of rain, this allowed a few of us the opportunity to walk around the garden as well as visiting the inside of the house.

I was amused when I was told this is not
a real violin hanging on the door, but an optical illusion.


I have enjoyed the sightseeing as well as seeing some of our regular First for Bridge guests and new faces, we all loved playing face to face bridge again. The Bridge room at Eastwood hall was well lit and well spaced out. Attendance at the evening sessions was almost 100%. 5 tables in the afternoons was very satisfying. We had a variety of winners during the holiday, and the culmination of the week was the Championship Pairs, the final of this was played on the last night and won by Lyn and Graham Foreman.


Director’s Report by Rob Richardson

“YOU HAVE TO ASK YOURSELF, DO I FEEL LUCKY? WELL DO YOU PUNK?”

As we were in Eastwood Hall, I thought I’d start with a quote from Eastwood, in this case Clint Eastwood as Harry Callaghan in DIRTY HARRY. The bad guy had two choices in the film, go for his gun and die if Harry had a bullet left, or go to jail for a long time. After the bad guy surrendered his gun, Harry pulled the trigger on his magnum to show that he was indeed out of bullets.

How many times have you sat at the bridge table and wished you’d kept better track of what had gone? This ability to keep count is one of the things that marks out the true expert.

Now to a hand.

You are sitting West, playing Acol. South’s double shows a near opening hand or better and tolerance for the 3 unbid suits.

So, what does West bid? Can he support partner’s Spades? Can he double, if so is it for penalty? Should he repeat his clubs. How about pass?

PASS I have an opening hand and partner has an opening hand, so allowing the opposition to play undoubled at the four level should not normally be an option.

DOUBLE Four level doubles at this stage of the auction must surely be for penalty, and partner has been unable to make one. Why? I have shown 10+ HCP (high card points) by responding at the two level, so he knows we have the majority of HCP. He is likely also to be short of Hearts. The opposition bidding, with South’s double suggesting 3+, and North jumping to four on little or no points, indicate a huge Heart fit. This may make, and if not, is unlikely to go off enough to compensate for a missed game.

5 CLUBS Most Acol players will play a response of 2Clubs as showing at least four. Therefore I
have two that my partner does not know about. We have three opening or near opening hands at the table, therefore the other hand, North, has very few points, any missing club honours are very likely sitting under mine. However to bid clubs I must go to the five level.

4 SPADES It is worth remembering that if an Acol player opens one Spade, he either has five or more of them or a hand too strong to open 1NT. (If you do not believe me try constructing a hand that contradicts this.) The strong hand is less likely, as partner may have doubled four Hearts on shear strength with that. Also, South’s double indicates shortage in Spades, and North’s extreme length in Hearts suggests shortage in all the other suits. It is highly unlikely that we do not have a Spade fit. I can bid Spades at the four level.

IMPS Oh, did I mention that this hand cropped up in the Butler Pairs where any ill advised penalty double can result in a big minus score should the contract make?

You have to ask yourself do I feel lucky? Well do you West?

If so bid a suit. This will gain if either the North/South contract makes, or if our contract makes. It fails if both go off. 2-1 in our favour.

Both 4 Spades and 5 Clubs will go two off with good play by both sides. The clubs may get doubled, the spades probably won’t. North/South should make eleven tricks in Hearts.

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