News from Cascais Bridge
Our first trip to Cascais exceeded expectations. As well as enjoying some fantastic bridge sessions, guests also had time to relax on the resorts beautiful beach, play golf or rejuvenate in the hotel spa. We stayed in the luxurious Grand Real Villa Italia Hotel and Spa where the hotel staff could not have been more helpful and efficient – nothing was too much trouble for them. Bridge sessions were played in the library used by King Umberto of Italy which, as might be expected, was a grand room. On two of the afternoons a group from the International Bridge Club of Estoril (just a short distance away) were invited to join us for a Pairs session. They added five tables of players to our numbers and both our guests and the visitors thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
The hotel overlooked the sea, and on the days when the weather let us down the sight of the waves crashing on the beach was quite spectacular.
Cascais centre is just a ten minute stroll from the hotel and there were a variety of restaurants, museums, galleries and shops. Also, a trip to Sintra was arranged and proved to be very popular. For those who wished to venture further afield, there was a train station with a regular direct service into Lisbon (at only €2.20 fare), well worth a visit.
Finally, thanks to Jacquie Corbyn who was a great help and whose cheerful manner added to the atmosphere in the bridge room.
From Jacky Baker
News from the Bridge Room
Bidding a Grand Slam
We all look forward to picking up a real powerhouse of a hand. It is only when the bidding progresses beyond the inevitable Acol 2♣ (or Benji 2♦) opening bid and the equally inevitable negative response from partner that we begin to worry.
In a hand from one of the evening sessions in Cascais South, with neither side vulnerable, picked up the following impressive collection:
♠ void ♥ AKQ62 ♦ AK2 ♣ AKQJ6
Players who were using standard Acol were happy to be able to open with a 2♣ bid and, over the negative 2♦ response, rebid 2♥, game-forcing.
Good news arrived at this point when partner raised to 4♥. Although this is weaker than a simple raise to 3♥ (which leaves more space to explore slam possibilities) it is still encouraging, as it is almost certainly based on four or more trumps. The problem now was how to proceed.
With a slam almost certain there is perhaps an urge to bid 4NT, Blackwood. However, this urge must be resisted. The reply, almost certainly denying an ace, will hardly tell you whether a grand slam is on – only the most pessimistic of players will be thinking of stopping short of a small slam after partner’s heart support.
Instead of relying on a convention, South should apply logic. Surely if there were any diamond losers then they could be discarded from dummy on declarer’s club suit, after first drawing trumps of course. For this to not be possible, dummy would have to have something like five diamonds and three clubs, when it would be possible to discard just two of the diamonds, perhaps leaving a losing diamond in dummy. However, assuming the raise to 4♥ is based on four trumps, this distribution (four hearts, five diamonds and three clubs) would leave room for only one spade. Surely the opponents, with twelve spades between them, would have found some way to enter the auction. So the only worrying distributions for partner are 1-4-4-4, when only one diamond discard on the clubs is available, or 0-5-3-5 (i.e. the same as the South hand) making it even more likely that the opponents would be bidding. Even then partner may contribute ♦Q – a card that it is difficult to discover even for the most advanced bidders. All in all, it must be a reasonable gamble to bid the grand slam.
For the record, partner (North) held ♠ KQ6 ♥ 108754 ♦ 953 ♣ 75
and although the spade honours were not the cards that South needed, the contract was cold once the opening (diamond) lead was not ruffed. Declarer simply drew trumps and discarded a diamond from dummy on his club suit, as anticipated, before ruffing his third diamond in dummy.
And the winners were…