News from the Bridge room in Menorca, October 2021

Host Report by Pauline Durie and Jacky Baker

What a pleasure it was to return once more to Menorca and the Hotel AluaSoul – formally known as S’Algar . The hotel has been refurbished to a high standard and received much praise from guests. The dining room and terrace provided a lovely setting for a wide choice of meals which were enjoyed looking out to sea.

The hotel staff deserve a special mention as they went out of their way to make our stay a very pleasant one. Nothing seemed too much trouble and the support they gave us was wonderful. Laura provided a great deal of help and advice to guests completing locator forms – always with a smile.

We had a lovely group of bridge players making 10 tables in total, who had travelled despite all the restrictions of tests and form filling. Any anxiety they had soon dissipated as the holiday got under way.

Bridge was played every evening, and some afternoons, in a room overlooking the pool and sea. We played a mixture of pairs and teams with a Swiss Pairs over one weekend. It was strange holding real cards once more as many of us have been playing exclusively online during lockdown.

Whilst we were unable to offer excursions due to Spanish restrictions, guests were able to take advantage of the courtesy bus to Punta Prima or the local bus to Mahon where the boat trips were still sailing around the lovely natural harbour. Walking from the hotel along the shore to the Spanish tower, or to Alcafar for a swim from the beach, was popular with many. Sitting by the pool and enjoying the sunshine was a real treat.

Many guests are already looking to book for next year and we look forward to seeing them there or on other FFB holidays now that confidence in travelling has returned.

Fantastic feedback

This was our first holiday with First for Bridge. We found the reservation team very helpful, particularly when we were struggling filling in Passenger Locator Forms. Once completed, travel was actually quite straightforward and we thoroughly enjoyed our holiday.

James & Susan G.

My first time in Menorca with First for Bridge, overall an excellent holiday. Good selection of food, nice rooms and well organised bridge. I have already booked for next year!

Colin J.

With travel restrictions easing it was great to get away for bridge and sun. We were sent clear instructions on Passenger Locator Forms and mask etiquette in Spain. Nigel and Pauline were excellent and we had enjoyable evenings of bridge.

Philip N.

It was good to be back in Menorca playing bridge at the AluaSoul and to be welcomed back by the manager Javier and many of the same staff who have been there for years. At first I was apprehensive as to how the journey would pan out. However, making our way through the airport, the flight and passport control in Menorca went without a hitch. Special thanks to Lisa and Virginia for their patience, knowledge and help in making life easy and the holiday possible.

Judith J.

Prize Winners

Director’s Report by Nigel Durie

It was great to be in Menorca again, having good discussions of the hands, whether in the seminars, or in the bar after bridge (making full use of the all-inclusive drinks until 11.30).

Two hands were of particular note in the second seminar when we looked at the Championship Pairs Finals.  The first gave a good illustration of Slam Bidding and the second led to problems in the play:

North has a wonderful hand in support of partner and (even though it contains no honours in Spades) a slam is a distinct possibility. Rather than messing about, show partner that game is a certainty and slam a distinct possibility, by making a Splinter bid to show your Club singleton.  Not surprisingly this is good news to South who now knows that she will be able to ruff some clubs in dummy and discard others on North’s implied high cards in the red suits (where else will North’s strength lie?).
Now South just needs to know about the top cards in the Majors and Diamonds.  Roman Key Card Blackwood (RKCB) does the job very well here:

Now that South knows that 1 Key Card is missing she will subside quite happily in 6♠ in the knowledge that North’s holding in the red suits will be robust enough given the original slam-interest Splinter.  As you can see the play will be straightforward with just the ♠K as a loser.
On the night 7 out of 10 pairs bid the slam.

On our second  hand 8 out of 10 pairs reached the anticipated 4 contract, but only 2 were successful:

How would you plan the play on the 2 lead?  You are feeling confident with only ♣2 Diamond losers and probably 1 Club loser.  So take the club finesse immediately?  But, after careful thought is it correct to take the club finesse on the initial lead?

The South declarer of one of the Championship joint winners reasoned that the ♣2 was possibly a singleton given her own club holding and hence that she could not afford to finesse the first round and lose to the ♣K with Diamond entries availble to the opposition to achieve  Club ruffs.  Thus she took the ♣A dropping the ♣K in the process and hence revealing the Club position.  An easy 12 tricks were now available.  Note that taking the losing Club finesse enables EW to take two Diamond tricks and a Club ruff when West is in with the A.  One down.

Without an initial Club lead, what would be the best way for South to approach the Clubs after drawing trumps?  If Clubs split 3-1 with ♣ K J x with East then there are always 2 Club losers to go with the 2 Diamond losers so we do not need to concern ourselves with that option since we will fail whatever we do. If we take the losing finesse of the ♣Q we are still left to decide whether to finesse for the ♣J to be with West or to play for the drop. The solution is to realise that we don’t need 5 tricks in Clubs, only 4 and hence to employ the safety approach which gives us 80% chance of the 4 tricks:  Play the ♣A on the first round (both East & West follow) and then come back to hand with the ♠A and play a second Club overtaking whatever card West plays guaranteeing at most one loser.  The hand:

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