Host Report by Rob Richardson
The March weather in Cyprus is somewhat similar to that in the UK at the height of summer. That is to say mainly warm and sunny and, so we don’t get bored with it, the occasional day of rain. Rain was no problem at the Athena Beach Hotel as it had a gym, indoor pool, sauna and steam room
along with a full daytime programme of activities, the most popular of which was the weekly wine tasting. This caused the hotel a small issue as the unexpectedly large turn out (mainly bridge players) meant that the sommelier had to delay the start to send for more stock and reinforcements
to serve it.
The first excursion out included a trip to Aphrodite’s pool where legend has it that she met her lover Adonis. It is said that if a lady bathes in the pool she will come out looking 20 years younger. None of our party dived in through fear, we believe, of becoming too young to go on bridge holidays.
Many of our party also had a day out in the Troodos Mountains with their wonderful views. This included a visit to the tomb of Archbishop Makarios and the nearby Kykkos Monastery with it’s fabulous golden altar. It is worth noting that it is sited at an altitude of 1314m above sea level, only 30m lower than the top of Ben Nevis.
The third week of this holiday, in Famagusta, had to be cancelled when the Turkish authorities closed the border. The rumour that they had heard about the wine tasting and wished to preserve their alcohol stocks may have some truth.
(Click on the images below to see captions)
Director’s Report by Andrew Kambites
The Paphos Butler pairs produced yet another example of a hand where each side can make a lot of tricks, courtesy of a big fit. Indeed each side has a big fit in two suits. I make no apology for choosing this hand. Such hands have a huge bearing on the results of teams-of-four or Butler pairs where your score is IMPed against the average score of the pairs sitting in the opposite direction. You learn about such hands by experience rather than theory and you can only gain the necessary experience by seeing them in action.
The hand records state that North/South can make ten tricks in hearts and East/West can make 4♠. Indeed North/South can do even better in clubs (making 5♣) while East/West can make 5♦. How relevant is that?
To hold North/South to 4♥ East needs to give West a club ruff. If he leads a diamond declarer discards his spade loser, draws trumps and just loses the ♣A: 12 tricks. However defending at a high level with two aces opposite a partner who has opened the bidding I think the ♠A looks right.
To hold East/West to 4♠ North must cash only one heart before giving South a diamond ruff. It is very easy to imagine North trying to cash ♥A K and allowing West to make 11 tricks though I will argue below that North should get this right. North/South can never prevent West from making 5♦.
It is worth considering how experts look at this sort of hand when playing teams. They do not expect to judge every hand perfectly: that simply isn’t possible. They aim to avoid disaster. If an expert pair in a competitive auction takes an action that turns +100 into -100 that is considered an acceptable insurance policy. What expert pairs want at all costs to avoid is scoring -420 when +620 was available. Having said that nobody in the world gets everything right so I will look at a possible start to the auction.
West has a dilemma in his opening bid. If he opens 1♦ he can easily rebid 1♠ after a 1♥ response but if the response is 2♣ then West is not strong enough to reverse into 2♠ and can only rebid 2♦. West’s 5-card spade suit is likely to be permanently lost. On the other hand if West opens 1♠ (instead of his more normal longest suit) then he will never be able to persuade East that his diamonds are longer than his spades, and if East responds 2♥ then West can only rebid 2♠, burying his excellent diamond suit.
North has a maximum 1♥ overcall of 1♦. The hand is not good enough to double and then bid hearts and unless North bids hearts now he will never be able to show his fifth heart.
East responds 1♠. Modern practice is that a negative double shows four spades (the unbid major) so 1♠ shows five spades.
South knows of at least a ten-card heart fit so jumps to 4♥, the level of the fit. South should not let his non existent point count deter him just because he is vulnerable. South has a lot of shape and there is every prospect that each side has a big fit.
West knows of a ten-card spade fit and bids 4♠, again bidding to the level of the fit.
North might well double 4♠ to show a super maximum 1♥ overcall but South has no defence to 4♠ and will surely take it out. South’s thoughtful bid is 5♣ rather that 5♥, allowing North to judge whether a double fit exists. Note that at this stage South shouldn’t be worried that North might think 5♣ asks for a club lead because South will be on lead against 5♠. Now anything could happen. If East/West do persevere to 5♠ then I think that a thoughtful North should find the diamond ruff. He cashes the ♥A and then considers the bidding. West clearly has at least four spades for the 4♠ bid. When North looks at his point count and adds the points in dummy he will realise that West and South have done a lot of bidding with just 12 points between them so they clearly have lots of shape) but West chose to open 1♦ rather than 1♠. Surely West has at least five diamonds, and if that is the case South can have at most one diamond.