News from the Bridge room - Jan & Feb 2022 round up

January, Tenerife - H10 Tenerife Playa Hotel

January took us to warmer climates in Tenerife, where we stayed at the H10 Tenerife Playa Hotel and soaked up some winter sun. Located on the seafront promenade of the charming town of Puerto de la Cruz, the hotel held prime position facing the Lago Martianez – guests enjoyed watching the abundance of body boarders looking for the perfect wave. The service and food at this popular hotel were excellent with a wide and varying choice of dishes, themed dinners and show cooking. Guests also enjoyed lunch at the poolside bar. Whilst the turnout was lower than usual this was a particularly friendly holiday which was commented on by several people who travelled with us for the first time.

Attractions were in abundance, vibrant Botanical Gardens, Parrot Park, Teide National Park and the old harbour, dotted with colourful fishing boats, and black volcanic sand beaches.

"We left home for Tenerife with a lot of trepidation because of the Covid situation. The travel with Jet2 felt so well organised and really quite safe. Whilst on holiday and playing bridge we were very happy with the attention given to Good Covid hygiene and we were encouraged to take regular lateral flow tests. The staff in the hotel and restaurant were excellent and the food really lovely. Our holiday was a great success thanks to the hard work of John, Sarah, Colin and Marilyn.  Thank you. Keep up the good work.’
G & JG

In the afternoons Colin and John introduced the guests to Molkky (Scandinavian Skittles) and Pickle Ball (Racket Sport) which were new to most of us and led to some fun good-natured competition. After all, we are bridge players!

At the time of our visit Covid restrictions in the Canaries were strong, with masks required whilst moving around the hotel and even outside. Guests were encouraged to test every other day and had allocated bidding boxes. The bridge room was large and well ventilated. Colin organised interesting seminars and a varied bridge programme which was enjoyed in a competitive but friendly manner.

Prize Winners

We are looking forward to multi-centre Canary Islands holidays next year. Kicking off by returning to the H10 Tenerife Playa Hotel for two weeks from 5th January 2023, followed by a week in La Palma from 19th January and finally a week at the five-star Tenerife Barcelo South from the 26th. Thus, giving the opportunity for one to four weeks of Winter Sun! All coming soon to our website!!

Director's report by Colin Simcox

This hand came up during the holiday in Tenerife and caused a bit of trouble!

You are North and pick up:

East deals and passes.

Partner opens 1NT (12-14).

You are vulnerable, playing teams.

What do you bid?

Tricky, isn't it? If partner has good spade cover and the QC then 3NT could well be the place to be. Of course, if this is not the case, then we could be losing quite a few tricks in spades. If partner has 4 hearts, then this might be a possible contract. We know there are at least 8 clubs between the hands, so this is likely to be a safe contract. It seems, however, that we can't explore all the possibilities.

Some players will be able to ask about the club situation - whether partner has the Queen (e.g., Marx-Sharples transfers) - and if this is the case will presumably either play in 3C or punt 3NT.

Many will bid Stayman hoping that partner has 4 spades (or 4 hearts); of course, if partner does not have either then you will be compelled to rebid 2NT.

At pairs I would not blame anyone for making a conservative pass (after all 1NT + 1 will outscore 3C), but as it is teams then we really need to do something.

The real is problem is that the opposition are almost guaranteed to have at least 9 spades between them, and even if partner has 4 spades including a stop, 3NT will fail unless declarer can make 9 tricks immediately. This would require partner to have QC plus 3 quick tricks - is this very likely? Bidding Stayman simply to find out whether partner has 4 spades may seem a bit pointless, but it may well deter the spade lead. And what if partner turns up with 4 hearts? Would you be prepared to play in a 4-3 fit?

At teams I think I favour bidding Stayman. If partner responds 2S then bid 2NT and whether you play in 2NT or 3NT, you probably won't get a spade lead. If partner responds 2H then bidding no trumps seems likely to guarantee a spade lead so you are now compelled to play in hearts - which might not be so bad.

If the response is 2D you are in a very tricky position; indeed, bidding no trumps seems foolish to say the least, bidding 3C looks forcing and could go anywhere (although if you have agreed this as non-forcing then this is the optimum route!), but what about passing 2D? Partner would be almost guaranteed to have 4 diamonds so at least you should be getting a plus score.

Partner actually holds:

As we can see 3NT is not likely to be successful against competent defence, whereas contracts in clubs, diamonds or hearts are all making game!

The full deal:

Personally, I would not like to be in 5C, but 4H is not a bad contract, and 5D is excellent.

Interestingly the 5-card major, strong no-trumpers would open the south hand1D.

How about:

1D - 2C

2NT (12-14) - 4D / 5D

5D / P

Not unreasonable at teams. If you do bid 5D just make sure you play it carefully so that you benefit from being in the superior contract!

February, Norton Park Hotel - Winchester

February took us to the tranquil countryside of Winchester where guests could enjoy an idyllic combination of culture, sightseeing and competitive Bridge. We stayed at the characterful Norton Park Hotel which was surrounded by picturesque scenery and historic sights to behold. When guests weren’t playing bridge, they could discover Highclere Castle – a familiar setting to any Downton Abbey fans, wander the grounds of Winchester Castle, or explore the rich Winchester milling history at the oldest working windmill in the UK.

The hotel restaurant served contemporary British food, made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. From healthy light bites to indulgent afternoon teas, it was the ideal location to relax and socialise before evening bridge.

Prize Winners

Director's report by Colin Simcox

This hand cropped up during the holiday in Winchester and turned out to be more interesting that I first thought as it is a good example of watching spot cards and counting a hand.

You are East and hold this hand:

Partner (West) deals and passes.

RHO (North) opens 1S.

You find yourself playing in 2H or 3H.

South leads a spade, and dummy goes down:

Plan the play...

It's likely that North started with five spades, so South will be ruffing, but watch the cards anyway. North wins the SA and returns the S2 (a suit preference signal perhaps?) which South ruffs with H7. Does this mean that both H2 & H5 are with North? That could be good news in terms of a trump split. South dutifully returns a club to North's ace (not the queen you note), but you ruff.

If you have any hope of making this contract you will need to establish the diamonds, so cross to the ace and back to the king. Both follow with South contributing the jack on the second round. A third round fetches the queen from South and you ruff small (don't waste you 10, it might be useful). North of course followed and the suit is now established (plus you have a count of 11 of North's cards - 5/2/3/1 so far).

There is no point cashing your master CK as you don't have a discard, so play dummies remaining trump - H10, intending to run it (it can't cost, and may gain).

If North ducks, your 10 will win the trick, pinning South's H9 in the process, and giving a full count of North's hand (they must now also hold HJ & HQ, as South would have won this trick if they held either). In this case you can safely come to hand with SK and play two top trumps, leaving North with the master (and you with a small one). Now play your diamonds. You will end up making ten tricks - losing only SA and two trumps).

If North covers the H10 you will win the trick, noting H9 from South. As North is known to hold H2 & H5 from our earlier observation, there are now only two possible layouts in the trump suit - either North has all three (Q/J 52) or just 52. The former is more likely because ducking would be correct with three to an honour, but in fact it makes no difference, because your H8 & H6 have increased in importance since the 7, 9 & 10 have been played already. You can afford to draw another round of trumps (just in case they were 3-3 originally) - when South shows out you will know for certain that North started with 5431 distribution, in fact this exact hand:

North will hold SJ, S7, HQ & H5

West will hold SQ, CK, CJ & C8

East will hold H8, H6, D8 & D7

South will hold clubs (irrelevant)

When you play your H8 North will be powerless to prevent you making 3 more tricks. Again, ten tricks made for a very good score. The full deal (no surprises here!):


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