Bridge In Menorca
S’Algar – from Martin & Judy
Yet another very successful Autumn Menorcan bridge holiday.
To celebrate our 42nd anniversary at S’Algar and the 6th October break at La Quinta the sun shone for 27 out of the 28 days. The phraseology goes something along the line of “always on the righteous” which must prove that Arena have really got it right as it’s something that Judy and I never managed to achieve. Seriously though the sun always makes such a difference – combined with the welcoming atmosphere that we always receive from both hotels made both holidays wonderful.
S’Algar Hotels recognised that Ann & Nobby Clark were celebrating their 25th visit to the S’Algar hotel and presented them with a gift. It really is a testament to the quality of what’s on offer that so many return on numerous occasions.
For the first time we under estimated the number of hand records that would be needed, we have in the past printed just over half of the group number and inevitably had to throw numerous copies away; for both breaks this time we had to print more which speaks volumes regarding the use of the duplimate. Other than the EBU of course we still are the only company that offers this facility abroad.
Our thanks to Bob and Jacky Baker who were with us at S’Algar and to June and Derek Taplin who came to La Quinta for their help and expertise, to the management and staff at both hotels and most importantly to those of you who attended for making it such an enjoyable experience for us and your fellow guests.
Director’s Report for S’Algar 2013 by Bob Baker
There were a number of very distributional hands in the main events in S’Algar, and this led to some interesting bidding problems. Here is one from the Championship Pairs final:
East ♠ 4 ♥ AKQ105 ♦ K ♣ 976432
West ♠ AJ2 ♥ J4 ♦ AQ3 ♣ AKJ105
At Love All, North passed as dealer, and East’s first decision is his choice of opening bid. All the players sitting East settled for 1♥, treating the hand as a 5-5 shape because of the discrepancy in the strength of the two long suits.
West obviously has enough to make a jump shift response, forcing to game, but there is no need to do so, and a response of 3♣ simply uses up bidding space. In fact, after West makes a simple change of suit response of 2♣ the bidding is much easier. East should realise that his hand has become enormously strong, with a known ten-card fit (at least) in clubs and a five loser hand, and this should encourage him to take control of the bidding.
If East bids an immediate 4NT as Roman Key Card Blackwood then he will get the reply that tells him partner holds either one or four Key Cards; he cannot be sure which it is, though, and thereafter the bidding may get a little murky. Better, if the pair plays Splinter bids, is for East to rebid 3♠. Since 2♠ (a reverse) would be game-forcing after a two-over-one response, the jump should be taken as a Splinter Bid, showing excellent club support and a shortage (singleton or void) in spades.
West, of course, has a very strong hand, and should be encouraged by East’s rebid. If he now bids 4♦, a control bid showing slam interest (since it commits the pair to game at least) then East can sensibly use 4NT. As he has shown his interest in bigger and better things, West’s reply (showing one or four Key Cards) now clearly shows four, and East can bid a grand slam confidently.
At Duplicate Pairs, East may even try 7NT – if West has four Key cards then East can count twelve top tricks (one spade, three hearts, two diamonds and six clubs). A thirteenth will appear if West has ♠K, ♥J, ♦Q or if the heart suit comes in (three low hearts in the West hand makes this a good bet). Of course, here there are fifteen top tricks available – but even if EW stop in 7♣ they would have shared a top.
Points to remember:
1. If you don’t think that a hand with 6-5 shape is worth a (strong) reverse sequence, then it may be best to treat it as a 5-5 shape, especially if the five-card suit is strong and the six-card suit weak
2. Just because you have 16+ points, you do not have to jump the bidding in response to partner’s opening bid. A simple change of suit is forcing, and often you will be well placed to know how to proceed once partner has rebid
3. Splinter Bids are quite common after an opening bid of one of a major, but they can be used in other sequences. In principle, whenever a bid of a suit would be forcing, a jump in that suit can be used as a Splinter Bid
4. Sometimes it is better to use control bids (aka cue-bids) before using Blackwood – the two often work well together
5. Roman Key Card Blackwood (or the slightly less effective Key Card Blackwood) can locate the king of the trump suit and helps on this sort of hand
6. Any Grand Slam will score most of the points in a Duplicate Pairs session (here, 7♣ would tie for a top). However, when you can count twelve certain tricks and there are many chances for a thirteenth, as here, you may want to “go for broke”. If it comes off you have a story for the bar afterwards, and if everything goes wrong you have a real hard luck tale to tell (and bridge players are invariably sympathetic people)
La Quinta by June Booty
I was asked to go and direct as part of the team running two weeks’ Bridge holiday in the La Quinta hotel in Menorca and as this was my first time working for First for Bridge (now Arena Travel) in my directing capacity I was both excited and nervous. For the first week we had 11 tables and everyone got on very well. The atmosphere was amazing, with everyone very upbeat and jolly, and the wonderful weather that we had certainly added to our enjoyment. On the second week quite a few of our guests departed but no-one new arrived and we were worried the dynamics of the group would change for the worse. However, our fears were unfounded as the smaller group led to everyone getting to know one another very well and some firm friendships being formed. We had played table tennis a couple of times on the first week but, realising how popular this was, we played every day during the second week and a lot of hidden talent was discovered, although one or two enthusiastic players did have a tousle with the surrounding hedge! One evening eight players from a local Bridge club joined us for a duplicate session and together with the four members of the organising team we boosted our numbers to seven tables. Everyone enjoyed this evening immensely and the language barrier did not cause any problems, in fact it seemed to add to the fun. For most of the week all four of our organising team joined in to make an extra table, sometimes playing with one another and sometimes playing with the guests, and this too added an extra interesting dimension.
On the directing front, I was not called too much – I’m not sure if it was because hardly anyone made any mistakes (hard to believe) or because they were all too scared of me! However, at the beginning of the holiday I offered a prize to the first person who called me for something that I had never seen before. I have been directing for over forty years, much of that time working for the EBU at national competitions and thought it unlikely that anything I had not seen before would come up. How wrong can one be? After only a day or two it happened, and then the very next day someone else did exactly the same thing! When the bidding ended South was declarer and West was due to lead. Unfortunately, East led by mistake and placed his card, a heart, face up (if it had been face down then there would have been no problem). This mistake occurs very frequently at every Bridge club, but before anyone had time to draw attention to the irregularity West led a spade, having not seen that partner had already led, also face up! Now I was called. First I ascertained that East’s card was definitely played before West’s. Now I told declarer he had five options and must not confer with his partner when choosing one. In summary they are 1) he can accept the lead and be dummy, 2) he can accept the lead and be declarer, 3) he can reject the lead and insist that West leads a heart in which case East can put his heart back in his hand, 4) he can reject the lead and prohibit West from leading a heart in which case East can put his heart back in his hand or 5) he can reject the lead and allow West to play anything he wants but East must leave his heart on the table and play it at his first legal opportunity, be that following suit, leading or discarding. Of course, South cannot confer with his partner when making the decision. This is all very wordy but straightforward but East’s exposed card added to the problem. If South chose options 1), 2) or 3) then East’s spade would become a major penalty card and would itself be subject to 3), 4) and 5) above. If South chose 4) or 5) then East would have to lead his exposed heart as his card would have to be played at its first legal opportunity, namely trick one.
Phew, who’d be a director! I am also a Bridge teacher and I was commissioned to do four seminars during the fortnight. One I did on Game Tries and one on Splinter bids, with the other two based mainly on the hands from the nights before. The hands had all been randomly dealt by the computer and Games Tries were a rare bird, hardly to be spotted at all. Splinters, on the other hand seemed to be popping up all over the place and people were eagerly chatting about ones they had managed to bid!
All in all a super fortnight. I think the guests are all looking forward to returning – I certainly am.