Arena Travel Blog

  • A new UK Elvis festival launches

    Elvis International UK Festival & Contest Lakeside Country Club, Camberley, Surrey, UK Friday 31st Oct - Sunday 2nd Nov 2014 Book Tickets >> Sixty years after Elvis first walked into Sun Studios to record his first single ‘That’s Alright’, Elvis fans and tribute artists from around the world are being invited to the South’s biggest celebration of ‘The King of Rock n Roll’ at a three day event at the Lakeside in Camberley, Surrey this Autumn. The Elvis International UK Festival & Contest, which takes place from October 31st to November 2nd, will include the International Elvis contest, after show parties, Elvis big-screen discos and all things Elvis with the ultimate prize giving the winner the chance to take part in the Images of the King world finals in Memphis in 2015. The contest will also include a ‘Gospel Showcase’ and a unique “The Voice” style vocal competition with the contestant performing out of sight of the judging panel ensuring that the ETA is judged on vocal ability alone. This exciting new festival also includes showcases from world class ETA’s Mario Kombou and Gordon Elvis PLUS an exclusive performance from BILL CHERRY from the USA- all of whom have won world titles in Memphis, Tennessee in previous years. Bill Cherry, from Illinois USA, who has never before performed in the UK, has won a whole host of awards. As well as winning the Ultimate Elvis Competition in Memphis in 2009, he also won the Ultimate Tribute Artist Preliminaries in Tupelo, Mississippi the same year– making him the first ever ETA to win the title at both the birthplace and the hometown of Elvis Presley in the same consecutive year. Mario Kombou has notched up over 6,000 UK and international performances to date including the lead role in the hit London West End musical production of Jailhouse Rock (in the role of Elvis Presley's character Vince Everett) which had a successful run at the Piccadilly Theatre. Mario also won the Images of the King competition in 2005 in Memphis, Tennessee and currently tours with his own successful concert production “The Elvis Years”. Images of the King Champion 2012, Gordon Elvis, will also be performing at the Festival. Gordon has a huge international following and is well known as one of the leading ETA’s in the world. Gordon also won the European Championships at the Hilton in Birmingham in 2013. There will also be a whole host of other special guests at this event from countries all over the world and the judging panel will be led by Todd Slaughter from the Official Elvis Presley Fan Club of Great Britain. Lakeside Country Club is one of the UK’s premier international cabaret and entertainment venues providing first class facilities, easy access and a unique atmosphere that takes you back in time – enhancing the overall Elvis experience. Contestants: Please call 01473 660 800 for an entry form. Special accommodation rates are available at Lakeside International Hotel. Running order and acts are subject to change. Book Tickets >>
  • News from the Austrian Bridge Room

    austria Hosts Report by Barry & Maggie Watts The four star Postwirt hotel was the venue for this year’s bridge holiday in Soll in the stunning Wilder Kaiser area of Austria. History relates that the magnificent backdrop of mountains were named by Charles the Great who exclaimed, “Long after I will have ceased to be, you will still be an emperor.” The mountain scenery is worth the praise and because the whole area is a ski resort in winter, there are cable cars to many high spots from which the magnificent scenery can be enjoyed by walkers and non-walkers alike; usually from a delightful café at the top. The town of Soll is a beautiful Austrian town. It is compact with most facilities, including many restaurants and bars within walking distance. The towns folk are welcoming and warm-hearted and seem to be living a constant festival. Almost every day the bridge sessions are accompanied by the sound of the Town brass band or choir or by zither players. It is a very happy place to go to for a holiday and there is so much to do that it was difficult to fit in the bridge. austria2 The Postwirt is a family owned, traditional Austrian ski hotel. The staff were most welcoming and worked hard throughout our stay to provide everything needed to make our holiday enjoyable and memorable. We arrived in a heatwave with temperatures in the high 30s; extraordinary for Austria at any time of year. It took most of the first week to cool down so not only were the initial bridge sessions hotly contested as usual but also they were just hot! The weather was great, the bridge most enjoyable and the holiday a great success. We are already looking forward to next year. Directors Report by Bob Baker What does it mean when the opponents bid unopposed to a game and we double? Well, it could be that you simply don’t believe them, or it could be that you know that suits (especially trumps) are breaking badly for them. But when the bidding goes 1NT    pass    3NT   double then the double has a special meaning: it says “Partner, I have a solid suit worth at least five tricks if you lead it”. Of course, partner has no trouble working out what that suit would be – usually. However, the following hand occurred one evening in Austria: bridge With neither side vulnerable, West dealt and opened 1NT (12-14) and, after a pass from North, was raised, reasonably enough, to 3NT Now South has a classic hand for a double - a solid suit that, as long as his partner leads it, will surely guarantee the defeat of the contract. So South doubled, and when that was followed by three passes 3NT doubled became the contract. The bidding: West   North   East   South 1NT    pass    3NT  double all pass Now, of course, the spotlight fell on North. Now North knew exactly what his partner’s double meant, but looking at his hand he could not tell which of three suits (spades, diamonds or clubs) his partner had. As you can see, if he chose to lead a minor suit declarer would have no trouble in making his game, with five diamond tricks and four club tricks. Indeed, at several tables, after 1NT was raised to 3NT (and South failed to double) the contract was made on a club or diamond lead. Rather than guess which suit to lead, North found a clever solution to his problem. He led his A and waited for dummy to appear. After this it was clear that the only solid suit that could be held by South was spades, so at trick two North switched to a spade and his happy partner took the next six tricks. The 3NT game was three down – well doubled and well defended.
  • Knitting in Umbria with Debbie Abrahams

    P1030208A Read all about Debbie's knitting retreat to Umbria via her daily blog! Don't forget to check back each day for her new updates!
  • News From the Norway Eclipse Bridge Room

    News from the Bridge Room From Allan Sanis On our first morning at sea I gave a seminar on Checkback Stayman. This is a system that enables you to explore the distribution of the two hands and decide whether a major or No Trump contract is the best spot. That evening, on the very first hand, Ros and Peter tried it out for the first time. untitledAfter Peter rebid 1NT (15-17) Ros was able to bid 2C Checkback. Peter answered stop 3H showing a maximum hand for his 1NT plus 5 card Heart suit. Ros bid 3S showing her 5 card Spade suit. Now with 3 Spades Peter was able to bid the Spade game. Without this convention the N/S pair may well have been in 3NT that, after a diamond lead, is a disaster. The full hand was (dealer North) :
  • News from the Menorca Bridge Room

    Menorca 047

    Directors Report

    This hand occurred in the Swiss teams at Salgar. What should East open? untitled If East/West have a weak 2 available that seems to be appropriate. East should raise 2 to 3, pre-emptive rather than a game try because if West wanted more information from East with a view to game he would start with a conventional 2NT (which would ask East to rebid 3if minimum or show a no-trump stopper if maximum. North has 8 tricks. If he bids 3 South may pass, but North has a subtle clue available. The East/West bidding suggests they have nine diamonds, which marks South with a singleton diamond. North would be very unlucky to find South with very short hearts as well, so he has legitimate hopes of dummy covering his diamond losers. Hence 4 looks a good bet. At  one table West passed 2. Paradoxically this makes it harder for North because he can no longer diagnose diamond shortage in his partner’s hand. North has three choices. 1)      North can jump to 3. Note that even if you play weak jump overcalls a jump overcall of a pre-emptive bid is strong. Ron Klinger succinctly says ‘Don’t try to pre-empt against opposition pre-empts.  Should South raise to 4?  Probably, because of the singleton diamond and three card trump support but it is a close decision. 2)     North can take the pressure off South by jumping to 4. He needs very little in the South hand to make game. 3)     North could bid 3, hopefully asking for a diamond stopper and prepared to settle for 4 if South does not bid 3NT. With a solid heart suit and black aces that might seem attractive but bridge players are given to assuming partner will be on the same wavelength. Have you discussed whether 3 asks for a diamond stopper or is a Michaels cue bid showing both majors? If not, best avoid it! If you don’t have a weak 2 available then East can pass or open 1. If East opens 1. West will bid 2♣. What now? North knows that South is likely to be weak and has no reason to believe that South has short diamonds. If 3 would be a weak jump overcall South must choose between 2 and a stronger action, e.g. double followed by bidding hearts. North/South might or might not reach 4. If East passes as dealer West might open a lead directing 1♣ in third seat.  North is too strong for 1 and doubles, intending to bid hearts later. That shows a hand too strong to bid an immediate 1. Anyhow, not surprisingly there were lots of different results. Some Norths played in 3, making easily by means of a diamond ruff (or two) in dummy. Some East/West pairs sacrificed in 5 over 4 and were doubled for -300, cheap against a vulnerable game, provided the game makes. Some Norths played in 4. This is easy after a diamond lead. East switches to a trump but it is too late. Declarer wins the A, ruffs a diamond, crosses with the ♣A, ruffs a second diamond and returns to hand with the ♠A to draw trumps. Suppose East finds an inspired trump lead against 4. Now declarer must realise that playing a diamond leads to making exactly nine tricks. Defenders will win and play a second trump, restricting declarer to one diamond ruff. Declarer must find a line of play that can lead to ten tricks, and he must hope he can use dummy’s 10 9 to help him set up dummy’s spades. He wins A and plays ♠A followed by a spade to the ♠Q. West wins the ♠K but what can he do now? If West forces dummy to ruff a diamond (cutting declarer off from his spades) declarer can ruff two diamonds for ten tricks. Alternatively suppose West continues trumps (or switches to a club).  Declarer wins a trump continuation with dummy’s 9, ruffs a spade with the K, draws the last trump with dummy’s 10 and has two winning spades to cash. Note the different lines of play in 4. It is not uncommon for declarer to have two possible lines of play available, ruffing a loser or two in dummy and setting up dummy’s long suit. It is often the case as here that declarer must choose one or the other: ruffing declarer’s spades good is incompatible with ruffing diamond losers in dummy. Declarer’s chosen line is determined by how many tricks he needs for his contract.

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