View of Kaprun, Austria

News from the Bridge Room in Kaprun 2019

Host report by Barry & Maggie Watts

We arrived for our Bridge Holiday in Kaprun in Austria’s Eastern Alps to bright sunshine and blue skies. The locals cheerfully advised us that they hadn’t seen the sun in months; we assumed the worst and resigned ourselves to a short spell of good weather.

We were lucky! The sun stayed with us and shone virtually solidly for the whole holiday. By the second week, temperatures soared into the 30s.  At the start we could see heavy snow cover on the mountain-tops and we were told people were still skiing! We all headed for the ski lifts and were whisked up high above the snow line to ski stations above 3000m. we didn’t do much skiing but the bright clear days allowed stunning far reaching views of dramatic snow-capped Eastern Alps and the cafés sold amazing cakes! The hot sun then started a dramatic snow melt. The rivers were very quickly swollen turning the whole landscape into a glittering spectacle of snow, waterfalls, rivers in spate and green meadows with spring flowers coming through.

Hotel Toni

The Hotel Toni sits at the upper end of the Kaprun ski resort and all its balconies enjoy fabulous views up to the valley ski slopes. It is one of two hotels in Kaprun owned by the same family. The second is called the Antonious; no prizes for guessing the name of the owner!  It is typical of Austrian, family-run, hotels; large enough to offer all the facilities we needed, including a pool and spa, but small enough that we had the whole hotel to ourselves. The staff were welcoming and eager to provide everything we could need so we quickly settled in. The food was excellent and the Austrian wine delicious. As we sat on the terrace on the first evening with the sun shining on the Kitzsteinhorn and its glacier ski slopes it was hard to think about bridge.

On arrival all guests were issued the usual hotel information pack but this one included the ‘Sell am See – Kaprun Summer Card’. At the Holiday Welcome Meeting we discussed how we might get the best out of this card. In the event, we just needed to get out and about because the card gave us access to just about all local transport including buses, ski-lifts, boats on the lake and more. It was the free entrance fee to many attractions and a discount card for many more; including most notably a guided tour up the GrossGlockner high alpine road with its many attractions. We need not have concerned ourselves with how to get the best out of it, we just did what we wanted to do next. Some went even further afield visiting the beautiful romantic regional capital Salzburg. There was far too much to do in one holiday so few of the guests saw much of each other in the daytime unless they met on mountain tops or on the lakes, climbing up gorges or touring the many local attractions.

One of our guests summed it up very well:

Sheila Morton during our Bridge Holiday in Kaprun

“Home tomorrow and how I will miss the wonderful view from my balcony of the snow covered Kitzsteinhorn. This has been a glorious holiday. There are so many things to do and so many sites to see that one is spoilt for choice each day. We could not resist going to the summit of a mountain (by cable car) almost every day. For a 90 year-old this been an amazing experience. I even managed to walk through the Gorge; beautiful and a little difficult for someone my age but I managed with a little help from my good friends. Everything worked smoothly with well-organised bridge and very pleasant hotel staff. It was an extra thrill for me when Andrew returned from a trip up the Kitzsteinhorn with my favourite hat that I had lost days earlier; what a hero!! Of course, a HUGE bonus was the Kaprun Summer Card which enabled us to travel and enjoy all these marvellous sites free of charge. We saved hundreds of Euros. Without question I will return.”

– Sheila Morton
Prize Winners

The excellent weather meant no-one turned up for afternoon bridge but we did play each evening. We played the usual variety of Pairs, Teams and Swiss events and as usual, they were closely contested. As often happens, a team of Tom and Judy Walters and David and Rosemary Hickman that was thrown together and won the Random Teams event, stayed together and went on to win the Swiss Teams event later in the holiday. Nick Hunter and Ruby Schnalke won the Championship Pairs and they almost completed the double but were pipped by 1 IMP in the last match of the Swiss Pairs by Rose Windler and Graham Walker who scored a magnificent 20-0 in their last match to come from third place to win. We were lucky on this holiday that we had a good male contingent so the Men’s and Ladies’ pairs events were well represented. Olwen Parry and Mary Rea won the Ladies’ and Richard Lark and Mike Gordon won the Men’s.

(Click on the images below to see captions)

Director’s Report by Andrew Kambites

Low level doubles are always a potential cause of misunderstanding: are they for penalty or takeout?  Some doubles are easily identified with a well known name, but there are so many doubles that it is impossible to consider them all separately. For that you need general principles which guide you through a wide range of sequences, and one of the seminars concentrated on such principles. This was one of the principles.

If your opponents have bid and supported a suit at or below the three level, a double of that suit is not for penalties.

It is always helpful if topics covered by the holiday seminars are seen to be relevant in the evening bridge sessions. The two hands below occurred in the first session of the Kaprun Swiss Pairs. 

Bridge Hand #1

East has a decision over 1♠. 2♥ guarantees the fifth heart but is forcing and might push the bidding too high if West is minimum. If East chooses 2♥ then auction 1 is likely.

However East might consider a negative double instead. A negative double of a one level overcall should guarantee four cards in any unbid major, so in auction 2 East’s double of 1♠ guarantees four hearts, but not five. The advantage of double is that it keeps the bidding lower. The disadvantage is that it fails to clearly map out the 5-card heart suit. However in auction 2 it is possible to recover. South (in both auctions) jumps pre-emptively to 3♠, the level of the fit. If South wanted to make a game try in spades South would bid West’s suit, an Unassuming Cue Bid. In auction 2 the spotlight then turns on West. At first sight 4♣ looks obvious, however West does far better to double 3♠, for takeout as described in the above principle. Double keeps the option of 4♥ open and East is then delighted to show his fifth heart. In my view if West chooses to bid 4♣ rather than double he is deliberately emphasising a minor two suiter and East has every reason to believe that West has at most a doubleton heart.

Hand 20 again shows a flexible use of double.

Bridge Hand #2

North is very weak but he does have 3-card spade support so he again bids to the level of the fit.  West’s 2♥ might show only 3-card support so East should keep open the possibility of alternative denominations when bidding over 2♠. Double gives East the chance to bid a long minor if he has only three hearts so again is more flexible than some number of hearts. When West rebids hearts over the double it is likely that West has four hearts so East accepts hearts as trumps.

Incidentally, at pairs scoring where missing a vulnerable game is not the overriding criteria I have some sympathy for East if he passes 3♥. Yes, East has 19 points, but the doubleton ♠Q is hardly worth two points. Before you point out that 4♥ makes easily, look at the hand if one of West’s spades were replaced by a small club or small diamond. A combined 26 points, but 4♥ would be hopeless. Perhaps passing 3♥ is trying to balance on a pin head.

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