News from the Bridge Room in the French Chateau 2017

Host report by Pauline and Nigel Durie:

This beautiful chateau is situated on the edge of the Rhone Alps in the Savoie region of France and provides spectacular views from all directions. Accommodation is in three chateau buildings and all rooms are different. All are close to dining and bridge facilities. The bridge room itself is bright and air conditioned. The weather was beautiful, after a cloudy first few days, and afternoon bridge provided a cool relief for some. We were treated to exceptional service and gourmet food on the terrace with wine provided by the host from the chateau’s cellars. The owner of the chateau hosted a wine tasting with several very palatable wines to sample and a range of canapes to accompany them.

The chateau grounds invite you to sit and enjoy the scenery (including the occasional bride!) and the pool was well used by many. A wonderful place to simply relax, swim, read a good book, discuss bridge hands and to generally enjoy the warm sunshine. A short walk into Challes Les Eau offered the opportunity to visit the shops or stroll around the lake by the small airfield. Some guests were delighted to have the chance to try gliding whilst others ventured further afield to enjoy a couple of rounds of golf.

The included tours to Chambery, to visit the chateau and the market, and to Aix Les Bains were enjoyed by most guests. The bells of the chateau ring twice a month and we were fortunate that we were there to hear the music whilst sitting in the warm sunshine. Our tour guides were very keen to share the history of the region which really brought the area to life. The boat trip on Lac du Bourg (the second largest in France) at Aix Les Bains culminated in a visit to the very impressive Abbaye de Hautecombe – home to a growing community of young people and to some beautiful works of art.

The optional tour to Annecy – a place renowned for its charm and beautiful situation in the Alps - was also joined by most of the guests. The canal network in the old town, leading down to the lake, is lined with an array of restaurants and shops. A lovely place to stroll, browse and have lunch. A boat trip on the lake gave us the opportunity to take in the majesty of the surrounding mountains, with hang-gliders spiralling from the peaks in the distance.

Director's report by Andrew Kambites:

chateau puzzle 2

How do you know if a low level double is for penalty or takeout? The EBU have a simple rule that determines whether, for the purpose of alerting, a double is for takeout or penalty. A double of a suit bid is assumed to be for takeout if not alerted. A double of a no-trump bid is assumed to be for penalty if not alerted. (All this is subject to the conditions of when to alert calls when the bidding is above 3NT.) I thoroughly approve of this because it is simple and clearcut. However while generally true it is not necessarily good bridge. In the above hand from the random teams the bidding starts unremarkably with North opening 1♣ and East overcalling 1. East has done nothing wrong but a vulnerable East/West should now be in trouble, assuming North/South know how to punish them.

With East/West vulnerable South could bid 1NT but I think South should consider his hand worth a penalty double of 1. He has good heart intermediates and shortage in North’s suit. However he cannot double because double would be negative, for takeout. So how can North/South take advantage? The answer is that South passes 1! That shows either a weak hand or a penalty double. North is expected to re-open unless he can tell from his own heart holding that South cannot have a penalty double of hearts. In this case North cannot be certain, but he doubles just in case. The auction might thus start as shown below.

chateau puzzle 3

West cannot rescue into 1♠ on the first round because that would normally be played as forcing but on the second round he might be tempted to rescue 1 doubled into 1♠. East cannot reasonably be misled here, after all West passed on the first round.

If West bids 1♠ East/West are still in serious trouble but Can North/South take advantage? It all depends on whether they have clarity in their use of doubles. As many of you know, I believe that in bridge you cannot build system by discussing each of the millions of possible sequences. Therefore you need general principles. I have a principle that covers this.

After one penalty double, all subsequent doubles are for penalty.

In passing 1 doubled South has proclaimed a penalty double of 1. Therefore North’s double of 1♠ suggests penalties. South is expected to use common sense here: North opened 1♣ so spades cannot be his longest suit. The double suggests four good spades. With a void in spades South should remove but with ♠Q 7 South is delighted to pass 1♠ doubled. North/South should pick up a welcome 500 or 800.

It is when opponents have a misfit that penalty doubles at a low level can be productive.

Note that my principle also covers sequences like (1NT) Dbl (2) Dbl. The double of 1NT was for penalty, and so is the double of the 2 rescue.

Prize Winners:

Margaret and Derek Sayers – Swiss Pairs

Derek & Margaret Sayers – Swiss Pairs

John Fairbank Derek Sayers (Andrew Kambites) Barrie Harrison John Clews – Joint winners Mens’ Pairs

John Fairbank, Derek Sayers, (Andrew Kambites), Barrie Harrison, John Clews – Joint winners Mens’ Pairs

Karen  Pritchard and Peggy Skivington – Ladies Pairs

Karen Pritchard & Peggy Skivington – Ladies Pairs

Gill and Wally Curtis – Mixed Pairs

Gill & Wally Curtis – Mixed Pairs

Martin and Adrienne Purdy (Andrew) Gill and Wally Curtis – Multiple Teams

Martin & Adrienne Purdy, (Andrew), Gill & Wally Curtis – Multiple Teams

Grant Bramwell, Paul Samson, Tony Cockerill & Sheila Cockerill, (Andrew), Diana Forster, Christine Smith, Maureen Dennison (missing John Balson), Joint winners – Random Teams

Grant Bramwell, Paul Samson, Tony Cockerill & Sheila Cockerill, (Andrew), Diana Forster, Christine Smith, Maureen Dennison (missing John Balson), Joint winners – Random Teams