News from the Bridge Rooms in the Balearics

Host report by Nigel & Pauline Durie

Menorca October 2016:

What a beautiful island Menorca is and S’Algar resort is in a wonderful location that offers everything needed for a bridge holiday. A first-class hotel with staff who couldn’t be more attentive to our every need. The playing room is spacious and overlooks the pool and the sea, so when the bridge is tough it is easy to remind ourselves of the finer things in life! Two excellent excursions were enjoyed by many of the guests enabling people to see interesting places in and around S’Algar and the capital Mahon. One of the excursions focused on visiting parts of the island not on the usual tourist route and a knowledgeable and interesting English speaking guide was greatly appreciated. John and Marjorie organised a popular afternoon trip to a stable for a demonstration of the skills of the beautiful black horses of Menorca.

We were fortunate that the weather was kind for almost all the time and lounging by the pool or swimming in the sea were popular activities. Several guests followed the lovely walk along the sea front to the next village which has a small beach and a terraced restaurant to enjoy tapas overlooking the sea. Some ventured onwards to the fortified tower and even further to the popular seaside resort of Punta Prima. Two brave souls walked all the way into Mahon in temperatures of 27 degrees and returned feeling tired but rewarded with some spectacular scenery along the way. Well done David and Linda.

First time visitors to the resort were made to feel very welcome by the many returning First for Bridge guests and bridge ‘post-mortems’ in the hotel bar at the end of the evening’s play provoked lively discussions.

Many thanks to Judy and Fran whose help was greatly appreciated and the addition of Andrew to the end of the holiday was a bonus enjoyed by all.

As usual the third week of our holiday in Menorca was spent at the luxurious 5 Star La Quinta hotel. As in S’Algar the hotel staff go the extra mile to ensure guests have all their needs met. An added bonus here is the indoor pool and spa and, whilst the weather was kind and the outdoor pool inviting, the indoor facilities were popular with guests.

Many guests took the opportunity to take the local bus into the old capital of Cuitadella and enjoyed wandering along the harbour and through the winding streets of the city. A shopping trip to the wonderful Jaime Mascaro leather factory and El Castell shopping complex was enjoyed by many – please ignore rumours that Pauline spent a small fortune!

Many of the local restaurants in the picturesque local harbour of Cala en Bosc were still open and a beer or coffee watching the world go by was a popular lunchtime event. A trip up the coast in a glass bottom boat is an interesting experience and leaves regularly from the harbour depending on weather.

This was the first time Nigel and I had been ‘in charge’ and we were delighted with the friendly and supportive way we were accepted and feel as if we have made many new friends. We both look forward to meeting people again on future holidays.

Majorca October 2016:

Many guests from La Quinta took the short flight from Mahon to Majorca for a week at the magnificent Bella Playa Hotel where they were joined by others who came for the week. The hotel has a feel of old fashioned splendour with long corridors with marble floors and beautiful paintings. The restaurant served a variety of excellent food that had something to meet everyone’s taste. The Wellness Centre with its large hydrotherapy pool proved very popular whilst some hardy souls ventured into the rather chilly outdoor pool.

The hotel is in a splendid location and is just a short walk from a sandy beach and bustling Cala Rajada with a wide range of shops and restaurants and a busy harbour – something to suit everyone. An excursion to the fabulous mountains and viewpoints around Cap Formentor allowed guests to sample some of the spectacular sights of the North East of Majorca. Visits to local markets were popular with local buses being reliable and frequent. Palma is about an hour away with its beautiful cathedral and gardens.

Thanks on this holiday go to John and Margaret Buston for giving me a break from Andrew’s ‘special humour’.

Menorca director's report by Andrew Kambites:

You are playing duplicate pairs. Do you want to be in a borderline game contract on a guess? Maybe a vital queen is missing and you have to guess which defender has it. There are a number of factors that are relevant.

  1. Unlike teams when, particularly vulnerable, it is winning tactics to bid thin games, it doesn’t pay to push for thin games at pairs. By staying in a slightly cautious part-score you guarantee to beat pairs who ended up in silly contracts (and there are usually some).
  2. Sometimes a defender will solve your dilemma by leading the suit. If a defender doesn’t lead a trump when such a lead seems reasonable there is some indication that he might have the missing trump queen.
  3. There are usually some clues if you search hard enough. Indeed, experts pride themselves that they tend to solve correctly what seems to be a guess more often than not. This hand from the S'Algar Championship Pairs finals illustrates this.

I have shown a possible bidding sequence. The North hand is a balanced 11 points with no particular reason to upgrade to a 1NT opening bid. The 5-card club suit is a potential source of tricks but the unsupported Q is a poor feature.

I would also pass the East hand. If I open the bidding with 1 and rebid 1♠ over a 1 response partner will think I have 5 diamonds. When considering whether to open the bidding on a marginal hand I ask myself whether I can accurately describe my assets after a rebid. Here I cannot, and second in hand is the worst time to mislead partner because with one opponent already passed the probability increases that partner is strong. Playing pairs with every South likely to be declaring a heart contract the tenth trick is likely to be an important factor in determining your score whether or not you are in game. A diamond ruff in dummy will be easy enough and the tenth trick is likely to depend on you guessing clubs. Suppose West leads the 8 (second from bad suit). What are your thoughts?

It is fanciful to imagine that the defenders will allow you to establish a club for a spade discard. Seeing dummy’s clubs surely a spade switch will be automatic. You have an obvious loser in each side suit so unless you expect your opponents to be particularly kind you must get the clubs right. What clues do you have?

East seems to have the K and Q. Less obviously, East must have a high spade. With ♠K Q J West would surely have led the ♠K. This sort of clue is often missed because it considers what West hasn’t done rather than what he has done. East passed second in hand. Now it is certainly possible to construct a hand where East has the ♣A but could not open (eg. ♠ Q x x x x x K Q x x ♣ A x x). However most of the hands that fit the criteria above when East has the ♣A give East an opening bid so, while not conclusive, it looks more likely than not that West has the ♣A. So your club guess is far better than a 50-50 chance.

I would duck trick 1, keeping the A as an easy entry to hand for a diamond ruff. East ought to switch to a spade. Win dummy’s ♠A, return to hand with the A, ruff a diamond, draw trumps and lead a club to dummy’s ♣K. Easy!

Of the six declarers who played in 4 only one made ten tricks.

Prize Winners - S'Algar week 1:

Mens Pairs: Leighton Thomas & Keith Ponsford

Mixed Pairs: Judi & Ron Stevenson

Swiss Pairs: Chris Kennedy & David Stone

Ladies Pairs: Mary Rimmer & Joy Mayall

Prize Winners - S'Algar week 2:

Championship Pairs: Alan Foan & Birte Ditchburn

Consolation Pairs: Marjorie & John Bulmer

Swiss Teams: John & Marjorie Bulmer, Mary & Mike Beckett

Prize Winners - La Quinta:

Swiss Pairs: Di Oliver and Martin Read

Swiss Pairs: John Golding & Heather Holder-Powell, Margaret & Lauri Andrews

Multiple Teams: Heather Daniell & David Wilcox, Sue Robilliard & Sue Corbet