Latest News from Arena

Latest News from Arena

  • News from Menorca

    Host report from Menorca

    By Bob & Jacky Baker

    S’Algar remains as picturesque and peaceful as ever and we were fortunate to enjoy beautiful clear blue skies and sunshine for much of our fortnight there. There were, as usual, many guests who were returning and they all agreed that the hotel and in particular the dining was better than ever.

    The free courtesy bus service into the capital Mahon proved popular and for those wishing to explore other parts of this beautiful island the local car hire arrangements were both easy and inexpensive.

    After two weeks in S’Algar we moved across to the other side of the island to the luxurious La Quinta hotel. This is situated near to the old capital of Cuitadella and once again there was a free courtesy bus service twice daily from the hotel into the city. The staff at La Quinta made the returning guests feel instantly at home and the service provided once again could not be faulted.

    Our thanks go to Rob and Rosa who were our helpers in S’Algar and to Andy and Chris who, having enjoyed the two weeks in S’Algar as guests, became our helpers in La Quinta.

    Director's report

    By Bob Baker

    Many years ago, the bid of an opponent’s suit after he had opened the bidding was used to show a powerhouse hand. However, these hands occur fairly infrequently and often starting with a (takeout) double will point the auction in the right direction.

    Because of this, the cue-bid of opener’s suit, e.g. 1♦ from South, 2♦ from West, is now often played as showing a two-suited hand and a desire to compete. The most common method is Michaels’ Cue Bids (for the benefit of those who are looking with disgust at the positioning of the apostrophe I should point out that these are named after Mike Michaels, an American player who devised them). Of course there are many players who use Ghestem, a more sophisticated variation which is responsible for more bidding misunderstandings than almost any other convention.

    There is one common auction where the bid of an opponent’s suit should be played as natural. This is in a sequence such as 1♦ - pass - 1♠ - 2♠ where the 2♠ bid should show a good (usually 6-card) suit in a sound opening hand. Because the initial response at the one-level is often made on a four-card suit of very modest quality it is useful for the player next to bid to have this overcall available as a natural overcall.

    Note that you do not need the bid of 2♠ to show a two-suited hand with the other two suits - here, hearts and clubs - you have available a double or a 2NT bid for this type of hand.

    The following hand occurred in a Pairs session in S’Algar:

    West was dealer at game all and opened 1♦ (the middle suit of three touching four-card suits). East responded, perfectly reasonably, 1♠ and it was South’s turn to bid. If we accept that a bid of 2♠ by South here is natural, showing a strong six-card suit and a sound opening bid then this hand fits the description beautifully.

    The analysis given on the hand records suggests that (double dummy) South should make just seven tricks - in practice, the two NS pairs who played in 2♠ made eight tricks for a shared top. Although EW can make a partscore in clubs neither West faced with the problem of what to bid over South’s 2♠ chose to bid again.

    Prize Winners - S'Algar

    Swiss Pairs: Joy Mayall & Mary Rimmer

    Championship Teams: Jane Spreull & Margaret Rushton, Lyn Hilton & Margaret Payne

    Championship Pairs: Richard Stedman & Gerry Noonan

    Men’s Pairs: Ron Stevenson & Richard Gallow

    Ladies’ Pairs: Chris Simmons & Pauline Donnellan

    Consolation Teams: Margaret Hall, Brenda McDonald, Margaret Barrowman, Betty Angus

    Swiss Teams: Andy & Chris Simmons, Steve & Pauline Donnellan

    Prize Winners - La Quinta

    Swiss Pairs: Carol & Andrew Gilmour

    Championship Teams: Peter & Sue McNeill, Stephen McNeill & Christine Meakin

    Random Teams: Sheila Oxenham, Jane and Tim Green, Joy Allington

  • Host report from our Bridge holiday to the Chateau des Comtes de Challes







    By Andy & Chris Simmons

    This was First for Bridge’s first visit to the Chateau des Comtes de Challes. Located in the French Alps, the Chateau has stunning views from spacious gardens to the valley below and to the backdrop of snow-capped mountains in the distance. Continue reading

  • Report from our recent bridge cruise on Celebrity Eclipse to Iceland

    by Judy & Allan Sanis

    It was a pleasure to be back on Celebrity Line’s beautiful ship “The Eclipse”. The staff welcomed our “First for Bridge” group and we were once more looked after in the stunning bridge room with floor to ceiling views. Even bridge had to take second place to the sighting of a whale but we played through waterfalls and spectacular fiords! We had the benefit of being a smallish group and we all got to know each other and played bridge in harmony and friendship.

    The trips our guests chose were varied and included swimming in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, experiencing amazing geological formations dating back to the ice age and four by four off-roading. All the ports we visited were immediately accessible from the ship’s gangway and so walking around and finding a coffee was always an alternative to the organised trips. Once back on the ship the food, the entertainment, the bars and the shopping filled a gap between our twenty bridge sessions.

    All our regular players won a prize during the two weeks bridge.  So everyone shown in our pictures is a winner. Continue reading

  • News from the Bridge Holiday at The Athena Royal Beach Hotel, Paphos, Cyprus

    The Athena Royal Beach Hotel, Paphos, Cyprus - Host's Report

    by Jacky Baker

    Back to Cyprus once more for yet another superb holiday. The staff at the Athena Royal Beach Hotel couldn’t do enough for us, and the guests remarked how they went out of their way to do all that was asked of them and more besides. “Happy Hour” in the hotel bar and lobby area was popular before dinner and the resident pianist was enjoyed by all. After the bridge sessions there was a variety of first class entertainment to enjoy as the players discussed the hands they had just played.

    There was so much to do on top of the bridge programme it was hard to find enough time in the day to fit everything in. Our guests were given seven free sessions of bowling to try plus the hotel’s own bowls programme. Bowls sessions were available for beginners as well as those guests who had bowled before. There was a full entertainment programme with dance lessons available as well. If you wanted to just relax in the sunshine there were plenty of sunbeds to share around and two outdoor swimming pools and an indoor heated pool too.

    Also trips exclusively for our guests were arranged to Kyrenia and Bellapais, Limassol and the Troodos mountains and Kykkos. The guests agreed that the adult only hotel was a wonderful venue and the spacious bridge room with large windows looking out to sea was one of the best we have ever had. We are already looking forward to returning at the same time next year.

    Many thanks again to Andy and Chris Simmons who were excellent helpers and generous with their time and to the management and staff of the Athena Royal Beach Hotel.


    Director's report

    by Bob Baker

    Sometimes in the course of a hand we get just the one chance to make a decisive contribution - this is often the case when we are defending.

    The following hand occurred in the first session of the Swiss Teams event in Cyprus:

    After West’s opening bid of 2♠ (weak) North overcalled with a natural 2NT and East decided to compete with 3♥ - possibly EW had an agreement that this showed spade tolerance. West retreated to 3♠ and East (using the fact that it was teams scoring as an excuse) raised to 4♠, which became the final contract. Note that North has already shown the strength of his hand with his overcall and has no real excuse for doubling.

    North led ♣K and South signalled encouragement by playing his ♣9. Now the contract can only be beaten if North finds an unlikely diamond switch, setting up two tricks in the suit. In practice, however, North continued with clubs and declarer ruffed at trick two.

    Declarer next led ♠10 and let it run when North followed with a low card. A spade to dummy’s ♠J revealed the (not unexpected) trump split and now declarer played a heart to his ♥10 and North’s ♥A. The game contract could not be beaten - declarer had six trump tricks and four heart tricks, with dummy’s ♠A as an entry - all the defence could now take was North’s ♦A. South missed his chance to take control and beat the contract. After North’s opening bid there could be no more than two club tricks for the defence and South should overtake at trick one and switch to a diamond. This sets up two tricks in the suit for the defence and when North gets in with ♥A the game is defeated - this would have worked even if declarer had held ♦KJx and North ♦A10x.

    Prize Winners

    Championship Pairs:
    Michael Owen & Margaret Scurlock
    Championship Pairs winners

    Consolation Pairs:
    David & Hilary Powell
    Consolation Pairs winners

    Swiss Teams:
    Careen Benjamin & Sydney Hetherington, Alex Davoud & Linda Lazarus
    Swiss Teams winners

    Swiss Pairs:
    David Powell & Barry Joyce
    Swiss Pairs and Mens Pairs winners

    Men’s Pairs:
    David Powell & Barry Joyce

    Ladies’ Pairs:
    Lyn Hilton & Maureen Payne
    Ladies Pairs winners

    Championship Teams:
    Jennifer Kinloch & Michael Whittaker, Alex Davoud & Linda Lazarus
    Championship Teams winners

    Consolation Teams:
    Michael Owen & Linda Miles, Margaret Scurlock & Stewart Pennycuick

  • 29th Official Queen Fan Club Convention Report

    Presthaven Sands, North Wales, 26th-29th September 2014

    by Jim Jenkins

    A return to North Wales brought more Queenies along to the annual bash that’s known as the Fan Club Convention. There had been an 17 month wait since last years and everyone in attendance was well up to party like there’s no tomorrow!

    Presthaven Sands in Gronant, next door to Prestatyn, was the venue for our 29th Annual Queen Fan Club Convention, a new venue for the proceedings. The park was vast and the main function ballroom was in the middle of the complex.

    Conventioneers started congregating in the Carousel Bar waiting to check in. The bar was open so made the wait bearable, ‘Convention Water’ started to flow and didn’t stop! People made their way to the allocated caravans to drop off luggage and then head back to the bar to meet up with friends.

    The Friday entertainment started late afternoon with Wayne Plants KARAOKE session which always goes down well. Fans were asked to send their favourite videos so a top 10 chart could be collated. The VIDEO TOP 10 had its countdown to the No.1 which was I Want To Break Free.

    Continue reading

  • Christmas & New Year news from the bridge room!

    Host report from the Athena Beach Hotel

    by Ro Kaye
    22 Dec 2014 - 05 Jan 2015

    The spectacular sea view which greets guests entering the Athena Beach Hotel is just a foretaste of the delights which await the holiday maker. Comfortable beds, a huge variety of delicious food, polite and caring staff and excellent bridge facilities all contribute to make this holiday a prime location for First for Bridge.

    The restaurants, pools, sea access and bridge room are all on the same level. Guests were spoilt for choice at both breakfast and dinner with as many as ten main courses on offer. Outside the bridge room there were many activities to try including putting, dancing, tennis, quizzes, darts and indoor and outdoor bowling. Several members of our group tried bowling for the first time and more experienced bowlers enjoyed the varied competitions Ann and Terry offered. Exploring the island was easy because car hire was readily available and the roads were quiet and left hand drive or there were trips on offer every day.
    Guests were able to play both afternoon and evening bridge with Judy Sanis directing a varied programme of events. Allan Sanis seminars were well attended and guests who missed these appreciated Allan's willingness to talk through his notes with them privately.

    Allan also ran discussions on the previous night's hands. Paphos bridge club sent a team to participate one evening and we were very interested to hear details of the expat life. We had several days of hot sunshine and some guests returned home quite tanned.

    The historic town of Paphos is a flat 30 minute amble beside the sea from the hotel. The mosaics are world class and the large site includes the tombs of the kings and a ruined medieval castle. There is a market every morning and buses run from outside the hotel. If you want a relaxing location in a first class hotel in a moderate climate with wonderful bridge facilities then this is the holiday for you.

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    Director's report by Allan Sanis

    Will they won’t they find the defence to defeat the game contract?
    allan sanis bridge puzzle
    The following hand occasioned some discussion after a teams’ session. The pairs were playing Benji Acol.

    The bidding starts with two passes. East considers his options. With 21 points should he just open 1H (this results in all passing so is this a good choice on this hand)? He could open Benji 2 Clubs (8 playing tricks or strong 2 suiter). This would result in East declaring in 3 or 4 Hearts depending on the view taken by the West hand. The third option chosen by most of our players was 2 Diamonds Game Force. This resulted in West becoming declarer in 4 Hearts.

    The question is will N/S find the best defence to defeat 4 Hearts?

    With East as declarer, will South lead 4th highest Diamond or Queen of Diamonds? If he leads the Queen North must always overtake with the Ace. He can then lead the 4th highest Spade taken by his partner’s Ace. He wins the Spade return with his King and returns the Spade to give his partner a trump promotion. Contact of 4 Hearts one down. With West as declarer. If North leads his 4th highest spade which is won by South’s Ace. He returns a spade to North’s King. North must now cash his Ace of Diamonds before returning the Spade to give his partner a trump promotion. Contract again one down.

    Could anyone find this defence at the table? What a wonderful game this is; full of possibilities!

    Host report from New Year bridge in Bristol

    by Bob & Jacky Baker
    30 Dec 2014 - 03 Jan 2015

    A cheerful group of over fifty players welcomed in the New Year at the excellent Mercure Hotel in Bristol. We were looked after very well by the staff and all agreed that the New Year's Eve Gala Dinner was first class.

    The location of the hotel just a short distance away from some of Bristol's attractions such as the SS Great Britain and the harbour side made it easy for the guests to find plenty to do in between bridge sessions. Several took advantage of the close proximity of the main railway station to have a day out in Bath, just 20 minutes away by train.

    Andrew directed in his usual impressive style and the fact that he had almost lost his voice did not stop him from delivering his seminars which as always were well received. A big thank you to him and also to the staff at the hotel who looked after us so well and so efficiently.

    Prize winners

    Christina-Backholer-and-Anne-Allerston,-Joan-Wycherley-and-Jeanne-Waller Margaret Bradshaw and Peggy Griffin, Brenda Farrell and Malcolm Dilley
    Welcome Pairs -
    Margaret Bradshaw and Peggy Griffin,
    New Year's Eve Pairs -
    Christina Backholer and Anne Allerston, Joan Wycherley and Jeanne Waller (pictured left)
    New Year's Day Teams -
    Margaret Bradshaw and Peggy Griffin, Brenda Farrell and Malcolm Dilley (pictured right)
    Farewell Pairs -
    John and Marjorie Bulmer, Mike Tettenborn and Anna Holmes

    Director's report

    by Andrew Kambites

    andrew kambites bridge puzzle

    Here is a truly wild deal from the first pairs session! Almost anything is possible in the bidding. With North/South having a fit in both red suits and East/West a fit in both black suits it is not surprising that each side can make high level contracts, and this is certainly a deal where it pays not to sell out too easily.

    I will start by stating the obvious. North/South can make 5♦, or 5♥ if the defenders fail to find their diamond ruff. East/West can make 6♣ unless the defenders lead a heart, discarding West’s heart loser on a long spade having lost a spade finesse to North’s ♠Q. However guests were surprised to see on the hand records that 6♣ can be made even if a heart is led. Can you see how? You can try it by covering up the North/South hands but by all means look at all four hands if you want!

    This is not one of those hands where you need to employ a double dummy analysis. Correct technique leads to 6♣ making. Win the heart lead, and draw the missing trump. It looks as though you now need the spade finesse, indeed if the spade finesse works you can make all thirteen tricks. However if you are in 6♣ you should be prepared to sacrifice the over-trick if it gives you extra chances. Admittedly over-tricks can be important at pairs, but that is usually when you have reason to believe that most declarers will be in the same contract. Here it is fairly obvious that results will fluctuate wildly and 6♣ will not be the standard contract, so concentrate on making it. Correct play is to draw the missing trump with West’s ♣K, ruff a diamond, cash the ♠A and then ruff West’s last diamond. Now play a heart! Whichever defender wins the trick is end-played. If North takes the heart trick North has the unappetising choice of either under-leading the ♠Q or giving a ruff and discard, allowing declarer to discard West’s ♠3 and ruff in the East hand. If South wins the heart trick he has only red cards left and so must concede the dreaded ruff and discard.

    Of course if South had won the heart trick and exited with a spade declarer would have to fall back on his main chance and take the spade finesse. There is a correct approach to declarer play. First identify your main chance, in this case the spade finesse. Then see if there is anything you can do to improve on your main chance, but without jeopardising your main chance. Even if the endplay leads to nothing cashing the ♠A before finessing itself is another example of this, because it saves you losing a trick to the singleton ♠Q in the North hand.

    Note that the bidding may have alerted declarer to the fact that taking the spade finesse would be doomed. Suppose East opens 1♣ and South over-calls a cheeky vulnerable unusual 2NT, showing at least 5-5 in the red suits. Once South is seen to have the ♣9 he cannot have more than two spades. Declarer can then only succeed if South has the ♠Q singleton or doubleton and perhaps that should alert him to the possibility of making 6♣ on an end-play if South has any spade singleton.

  • 2014 Stitchtopia Round Up


    2014 has been a fantastic year for Stitchtopia, with a mixture of brand new tours being introduced to our programme and some old favourites making a return. We've travelled to some beautiful places, met some wonderful new friends and completed some stunning knitting and quilting projects in the process, so please read on to catch up with what's been happening this year! Continue reading

  • 2014 Dispatches from Remembrance Travel

    dispatches from remembrance travel
    2014 was always going to be a special one for the Royal British Legion and Journeys of Remembrance, marking as it does the Centenary of the start of World War I as well as the 70th Anniversary of the D-day landings.
    It was a year to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and to honour them.

    Our main programme included: Continue reading

  • News from Algarve

    Host's Report by Jacky Baker

    We have just returned from our three weeks in the Algarve and find it difficult to believe that it is nearly the end of November already. The weather over there was very kind to us with almost daily doses of sunshine to enjoy. There was a variety of bridge played - pairs, teams of four, Swiss Teams and Swiss Pairs - together with a series of seminars. Continue reading

  • Bookings for the 30th Official Queen Fan Club Convention are open!

    After a lot of demand for details on the 30th Official Queen Fan Club Convention next year, we decided to give a little sneak peak of the convention, and put it up on our website a day early with bookings being open at 12 noon on the 18th November. We opened registration a little earlier this year because the buzz for the 30th convention has been so strong, especially on our Facebook page! Continue reading

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