News from the Bridge Room in Armacao de Pera, Algarve

Host report by Jane & James Tullett

We had a fantastic fortnight of sunshine and blue skies, enjoying the temperate climate of the Algarve. The Holiday Inn at Armacao de Pera offers stunning views across the Atlantic, the curvaceous golden sandy beach and passing trade of small local fishing boats.

The guest relations manager, Claudia, made us all warmly welcomed and treated us to local white port during the introductory meeting. The hotel is ideally located for a walk along the beach, a stroll into the old town, a longer walk to the dunes for a spot of bird watching (storks and kingfishers sighted) or a longer walk in the opposite direction to the old church on a rocky outcrop.

Guests enjoyed a choice of two excursions. In the first week we travelled by private coach to the old town of Silves to explore its cobbled streets, cathedral and castle. We then travelled up to the mountain town of Monchique where we enjoyed a leisurely lunch and then up to the summit to admire views over the valleys and look down on the clouds toward the sea.

The second trip treated guests to a day in the unspoiled Algarve; visiting the white and blue tiled church of Sao Lourenco in Almancil then onto Faro with a guided tour of the old tour and the opportunity to brave then”bones chapel” which is constructed and decorated with human bones. Less gruesome was Olhao, with its large fishing port and Moorish architecture. Then finally on to Tavira which is know as the Venice of the Algarve due to its many bridges over the river.

The large bridge room has fantastic views over the beach and its own sun terrace (if you fancy a bit of sunbathing in between the bridge sessions). The hotel bar also has stunning views of the beach and heated swimming pool. Complimentary afternoon tea and cakes were enjoyed in the bar and this was also the location for live entertainment in the evening.

We didn’t miss out on festive fun; a local choir treated us to carols on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day morning saw the bridge hosts and director making a run into the sea as part of the charity Santa dash. We must have been good boys and girls, as Father Christmas plus Elf, visited the restaurant with presents for all. After Christmas dinner, with continuous flow of wine, we enjoyed entertainment in the bar with several of us gracing the dance floor and celebrating into the wee hours. The celebrations for New Years Eve were even more lavish with gala dinner, dancing girls and live entertainment. The champagne generously flowed to see us through to midnight and then we enjoyed several fireworks displays watched from the terrace.

Director’s report by Rob Richardson

The theme of the seminars on this holiday was defence. The first seminar covered how to construct a picture of your partner’s hand in your head in order to help you select the most promising lead against 3NT contracts. The second seminar covered how to construct a picture of partner’s hand after he has led against any contract. During the first week of the holiday the following hand appeared during the Butler Pairs. Everyone is vulnerable, N/S are playing Acol and the bidding may have been

Partner leads the ace hearts.
We shall now construct the two unseen hands.

South has initially passed, and then freely bid at the 3 level, so we should place him with about 6-11 high card points in a competitive auction.
East’s overcall suggests less than 4 spades as with 4 he may well have doubled. I can see 6 spades in my hand and dummy, that leaves partner with at least 4.
When partner supported my hearts I had only shown 4, therefore I will expect him to have 4 or 5 (I can see the other 8). Declarer must have a singleton or void.
East is known to hold at least 5 diamonds for his overcall, probably more, so partner will probably be short in the suit.
So declarer probably has 2or3 spades 1or0 hearts and 6or7 diamonds. The arithmetic tells me he has 2-4 clubs.

We need 3 tricks to defeat the contract (remember this is IMP scoring), where will they come from? We must hope that the ace of hearts will hold the first trick. We have deduced that declarer is highly likely to hold at least 2 clubs, so an immediate switch to clubs will defeat the contract. But why should partner not carry on with my suit if the ace is not roughed? Don’t forget that I have 2 more hearts than I have shown in the bidding , partner will not know of declarer’s shortage in the suit. I must play a discouraging 3 on the first trick (or king if you have agreed to play reverse attitude). Partner should now switch, and the sight of the ace of spades in dummy makes clubs the obvious choice.

The full hands were

As we can see, we have constructed a fairly accurate picture of the two hidden hands merely by listening to the auction and applying simple logic. The most vital piece of information that we gain from this is that declarer cannot have more than one heart and that we must dissuade partner from continuing the suit. At the table two East’s played in 5 diamonds, both received an ace of hearts lead and both made their contract! Perhaps it was bid differently, but that is for another seminar.

Happy New Year

Prize Winners

Hover over image to see captions.

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