News from the Bridge Room in Austria

bridge-room

Host report by Barry & Maggie Watts:

Seefeld has played host to the Olympic Nordic disciplines no fewer than three times – in 1964, 1976 and 2012 and the Olympiaregion Seefeld has been selected as the venue for the Nordic World Ski Championships in 2019. It is clear that the region is incredibly proud to be able to host the prestigious Nordic sporting event once more and there is already much evidence that preparations are in hand.

Seefeld sits on a plateau 4000ft above sea level and roughly 2000ft above the Innsbruck valley. The surrounding mountains rise another 2,500ft and many of their slopes are ideal for skiing. The town enjoys sunshine for much of the year including the winter; a major factor in its popularity as a ski resort.

In the Summer the area takes on a new beauty of it’s own. The surrounding mountains, still etched with residual snow fields above the tree-line, provide a dramatic backdrop to every viewpoint. The sun shines almost every day so the alpine slopes are lit a vivid green and alpine flowers abound. The ski lifts are open and the ski slopes are used for a range of Summer sports such as hiking, running biking and extreme golf!

We stayed at the Seespitz Hotel which is sited at the edge of Seefeld next to the Wildsee lake and its nature reserve. The village and the lake walks are easy flat walking and the railway station is only a five minute walk away. From the rail station trains and bus services run to all parts so the hotel is ideally placed to reach any part of this beautiful region and enjoy its magnificent scenery, its history and the warm welcome it gives to visitors.

The warm welcome started in the hotel Seespitz which offers the best of Austrian hospitality. The staff were helpful and endlessly cheerful and managed to accommodate every request. The rooms were impressively spacious and immaculate. The restaurant, Spa, pool and terraces overlooking the lake were inviting at all times of day but of particular note was the quality of the food served in the restaurants. It was only the great variety of places to see and things to do that lured guests out of this fine hotel.

Needless to say, hardly any afternoon bridge took place. However, the evening sessions enjoyed 100% attendance and competition was as fierce as ever. In ten days our director, Andrew Kambites, provided a full and fascinating programme including Duplicate Pairs, Random Teams, and Swiss Teams events together with three fascinating seminars offering something for everyone from the less experienced to the expert players.

Director's report by Andrew Kambites:

austria hand

This hand is from the Austria random teams.

If East opens the bidding with 3♣ to try to shut out the majors that will probably end the auction and there will be no story to tell. However the East hand is rather strong for a 3-level pre-empt. After a 1♣ opening the bidding is likely to proceed as shown up to the 2♣ rebid. West now has a choice of two options.

If West wants to force to game he should bid 2 after 2♣, the opponents’ suit. After 3♠ by West, East should look at his holding in diamonds when considering 3NT, the suit bid by South, rather than hearts. Even if hearts are a weakness South needs to find the lead.

Alternatively West might jump to 3♠ over 2♣ as in auction (ii). This shows a good 6-card suit and is not absolutely forcing, though East will usually only pass if he has a misfit with spades. With a void in spades and only 11 points East could pass 3♠, but there are other factors here. It is not just whether East should settle for the safe spade part score or risk 3NT. With a semi-solid club suit and a likely diamond stopper it is quite likely that 3♠ will fail while 3NT makes. Against that, if the clubs fail to run in 3NT it could go a long way off. I would be lured by the vulnerable game bonus and risk 3NT, though I would hastily retreat to 4♣ if doubled. Another option is to remove 3♠ to 4♣, but I have little idea whether or not partner will consider 4♣ forcing and I don’t want to play in 5♣.

The play in 3NT is interesting. Consider the clubs. The saying ‘Eight ever, nine never’ might suggest that you should play for the drop in clubs but even without the circumstances peculiar to this hand the options of finessing the ♣J compared to playing out the ♣A K are close. Here there is a very strong reason for wanting to finesse the ♣J. If I finesse the ♣J and it loses to the ♣Q I can still get to dummy to make my remaining club tricks. On the other hand if I cash the ♣A K and the ♣Q fails to drop I will make only two club tricks. Also the 1 overcall by South leaves more ‘vacant spaces’ in the North hand so North is more likely than South to hold the ♣Q, but balancing that if South had a singleton club, making his shape 4-3-5-1, he might have chosen to double rather than overcall 1. Decisions, decisions. Such is bridge. But I must make a decision and I prefer to finesse the ♣J. If I am wrong the key to success is to put it behind me and get on with the next hand.

If declarer decides to finesse the ♣J rather than playing for the drop the outcome of 3NT now depends on South’s defence.

(i) If South starts with the A and switches to a heart, hoping that North will gain the lead to lead a diamond through declarer’s Q, West takes the A and finesses the ♣J. This loses to the ♣Q but the contract cannot be beaten.

(ii) South might start with the A and switch to the ♠Q. This is not an unreasonable line despite dummy’s strong spades because declarer is likely to have at most one spade. The play could be complex but if West takes the ♠A and finesses clubs he will go several off.

(iii) South might start with the A and on seeing the 10 in dummy continue diamonds. As declarer I would take the Q, enter dummy with the A and finesse the ♣J, going one off. Life is tough!

Prize Winners:

The Random Teams event was won convincingly by a scratch team of Alan Wilson and Tessa Slow, Dilip and Sobna Shah. Not surprisingly, they agreed to team up again for the Swiss Teams event later in the week and, although the opposition were more organised this time, they won again by 1VP.

Random and Swiss Teams Winners (Left To Right): Alan Wilson, Tessa Slow, Andrew Kambites, Sobna Shah, Dilip Shah Random and Swiss Teams Winners (Left To Right):
Alan Wilson, Tessa Slow, Andrew Kambites, Sobna Shah, Dilip Shah

The first two-day event was the Swiss Pairs. After session one three pairs were within Three VPs and appeared to be well out in front with Karen Read and Philip Sutton in the lead. However, the three leading pairs started the final session with average scores allowing others to catch up. Gisela Martin and Hilda Hope were in the lead as the final match started but Karen and Philip held on to win the day with a total of 88VPs.

Swiss Pairs Winners (Left to Right): Karen Read, Andrew Kambites, Philip Sutton Swiss Pairs Winners (Left to Right): Karen Read, Andrew Kambites, Philip Sutton

Karen Read and Philip Sutton were in the lead of the Championship Pairs Event after the first session but Gisela Martin and Hilda Hope had their revenge by winning the event overall at the end of the second session.

Championship Pairs Winners (Left to Right): Gisela Martin, Andrew Kambites, Hilda Hope. Championship Pairs Winners (Left to Right):
Gisela Martin, Andrew Kambites, Hilda Hope

The Men’s and Ladies’ Pairs is always a popular event towards the end of every holiday often creating much ribaldry when individuals from regular (usually mixed) partnerships fair better with others. Brian Buckley and Roger Wareham won the Men’s Pairs; no doubt providing much needed bragging rights.

Men’s Pairs Winners (Left to Right): Brian Buckley, Andrew Kambites, Roger Wareham Men’s Pairs Winners (Left to Right):
Brian Buckley, Andrew Kambites, Roger Wareham

Heather Holder-Powell teamed up with Brenda Holloway to win the Ladies’ Pairs again proving what they had known all along!

Ladies Pairs Winners (Left to Right): Heather Holder-Powell, Andrew Kambites, Brenda Holloway Ladies Pairs Winners (Left to Right):
Heather Holder-Powell, Andrew Kambites, Brenda Holloway