Arena Travel Blog

  • 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.
  • News from the Croatia Bridge Room

    Sveti Stefan (2) This was our eighth visit to this beautiful part of the world, it’s a bit like coming home, the staff and management of the hotel go out of their way to welcome us back, embracing those that have been before and ensuring those that are new feel part of one big family. In all the years that Judy and I have been running these holidays we have never received such praise about the quality and number or trips that were offered, our thanks on behalf of Arena go to Aleks our ground agent for his organisational skills, his enthusiasm and the obvious pride he has in his country. Our thanks also to the staff and management of the Meteor Hotel, Andrew Kambites our shy and unassuming director but most importantly all of you who attended for making it a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding fortnight for everyone. Next year First for Bridge will be offering a two centre holiday that will include a stay in Montenegro, and we are delighted that Aleks will be organising the transfer between Makarska and Montenegro which will include a stop off in the delightful walled City of Dubrovnik on route. Can we remind those of you who have e mail addresses to let Arena know them, it is a method of keeping you up to date not only with the latest news but to also let you know of additional holidays and occasional offers. We look forward to seeing you again in the near future. Martin & Judy Directors Report Dealer South East West vulnerable cards This hand occurred in the Swiss Pairs First let us examine how the bidding should go. After three passes, with a balanced 16 points East has a hand too strong for 1NT and opens 1. Presumably South passes (although if this was not polite company I would admit that at love all at pairs I would overcall 1♠). It is clearcut for West to raise to 2. Although the 1 opening promises only four hearts roughly 70% of the time East will have five. Even if East has only four hearts playing a 4-3 fit at the two level when you have ruffing values in the short hand is very playable. North passes and so should East! Of course West could have nine points, but even then a combined 25 points is likely to make game only marginal. There is no need to strive for thin games at pairs. Now the spotlight turns to South. East/West seem to have found a heart fit but the bidding has subsided at the two level. The points seem to be roughly shared between the two sides and if East/West have a fit, so do North/South. South strains every muscle to enter the auction in the protective position and should bid 2♠. This is not dangerous. North is known to have some points, he also has very few hearts so the likelihood of him having some spade support is high. North will not get too excited if South protects with 2♠. He will remember that South originally passed 1. This suggests to North that either South is very weak or South has only four spades. With only three hearts West should not compete to 3, but he might consider trying 3 which would give his sides a second chance of finding a good fit. North will then compete to 3♠. Well, this did happen at one table and well bid by the players. At a second table East bought the contract in 2, South led the 9, the 10 was played from dummy and North played a catastrophic K, allowing declarer to win the A, draw trumps and run six diamond tricks. Automatically playing 'third hand high' has to be wrong here. If North analyses the lead he will quickly work out that the 9 must be from 9 singleton or 9 4 doubleton. In either case playing the K will only help declarer. At several other tables West wrongly responded 1NT to 1. Some Easts passed, others raised to 2NT (though there is no reason to raise when the partnership has a maximum of 25 combined points and could have as few as 22. Optimistic Wests raised 2NT to 3NT. North led the ♠7 and dummy played ♠4 This is a rare occasion when South cannot tell whether the lead is fourth highest (from ♠Q 9 8 7 x) or from rubbish. If South is confident that the ♠7 is fourth best he can allow the ♠7 to win trick 1, and the defense collects the first seven tricks. South can also defeat the contract by taking the ♠10, switching to the ♣2 and North will switch back to spades, giving North/South the same 7 tricks.This seems more complicated and needs North to have the ♣K but avoids conceding an unnecessary spade trick if North has led from a holding like ♠ 8 7 x. It seems to be a guess. At other tables West correctly raised 1 to 2 but East made an over optimistic rebid of 2NT. 2NT here should show 17-18 points. Of course 1 2♣ 2NT can be bid on 15 points but 2♣ shows a minimum of 9 points. If 1 is raised to 2 West has a maximum of 9 points and there is no percentage value in chasing game with just 15 or 16 points opposite 9. Some Easts now raised to 3NT because of their long diamonds. 3NT is hard to beat: club lead to ♣K, ♠ 7 switch. East and West players who made 3NT were lucky. Even with the diamond finesse working and sufficient entries to the West hand to run the diamond suit it can be beaten quite heavily. If the diamond finesse had been wrong it would have had no chance. Swiss Teams Pat & Mike Gordon, Jill & Richard Lark swissteamsConsolation Pairs Peter & Emilie Kershaw consolationpairsMain Pairs Jan Wynne & Patricia Emmett mainpairs

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