Host report by Ro Kaye
Once again, the staff of the db Seabank Resort + Spa in Mellieha, Malta gave First for Bridge guests a warm welcome. For many of the group this was their second or third time with First for Bridge in Malta and they were keen to visit their favourite places and explore the island more. Anne and I were hosting while Terry Butler directed, and his wife Liz was a helper.
The all-inclusive package was extremely popular, and guests enjoyed meeting in the bar after bridge for a post mortem and a glass of wine or a cocktail. There was a very convivial atmosphere amongst the group, and many teamed up to venture on the island’s buses to visit pretty villages and enjoy some refreshments in the sun. The hotel offered yoga, pilates and aqua gym in the mornings as well as a guided walk six days a week. Although it was too chilly to swim in the large outdoor pool, many guests enjoyed a visit to the heated indoor pool or the adjoining spa for a massage or pedicure.
There were several walks from the hotel ranging in difficulty and the more adventurous took the ferry to Gozo to walk the coast path.
Terry’s seminars proved to be interesting and his ‘Pre-emptive Bidding’ lecture saw over two thirds of the guests attending. Although stated as a one-hour seminar, Terry was kept busy for over an hour afterwards answering questions and giving tips.
One evening, while we awaited the results we were treated to a rendition of Philip Statham’s poem The List, which some of you might remember was printed in the EBU magazine several years ago:
When I go to my local bridge club, some folks annoy me,
So I’ve got a little list. Yes I’ve got a little list
Of bridge club offenders who should be towed out to sea,
And who never would be missed; they’d none of them be missed.
The’re those people who bring ten pound notes to pay their table money,
Those who get me seven down and seem to think its funny.
All those who play conventions that I do not understand;
And people who distract me in the middle of a hand;
And those who in parking badly ever time they come persist.
They’d none of them be missed. They’d none of them he missed.
There are those who pass the boards on with the last board on the top,
And the expert analyst – I’ve got him on me list.
And those who have post-mortems and don’t know when to stop;
I do wish they’d desist, so I’ve got them on the list.
When directors make announcements, some people always chatter
As though what the director had to say really didn’t matter;
Then later those same people ask, “What do East/West have to add?”;
If only they’d have listened then the answer they’d have had.
And those who that the heating should be turned up (or down) insist;
I don’t think they’d be missed; I’m sure they’d not be missed.
There are ladies who like to gossip and thus hold up the game;
So I’ve got them on the list, ‘cos I don’t think they’d be missed;
And fellows who get bad results and never take the blame;
I simply can’t resist putting them upon the list.
All people who arrive late, causing the movement to be changed
And all teh boards and table numbers to be rearranged;
The fellow who plays every hand in agony and pain;
Every time that he pulls a card out he puts it back again;
And those who berate their partners every time a trick is missed;
I’ve got them on the list. They feature on my list.
Those who on the travellers often make a horrid mess;
By now you’ve got the gist; yes, I’ve got them on the list.
Those who write their names so badly that who they are I have to guess
I have them on my list – they too are on the list.
Directors who try to make me move when I’m still playing a hand;
That I need to play it carefully they never understand.
All fumblers grumblers and of course long pausers and revokers,
Moaners, groaners, and I’ve added militant non-smokers.
And I’m sure there are many others who could go upon the list,
And they’d none of them be missed; they’d none of them be missed.
I’ve got this little list, I’ve got this little list;
And they’d none of them he missed. They’d none of them be missed.
The hotel provided spacious rooms with either sea or pool views and guests could eat until midnight if they so wished. The hotel boasts seven restaurants and whilst the guests usually ate in the Coral Buffet, we arranged for the group to dine in the Italian and Asian venues during our stay. The beauty of this hotel is that you can visit the specialty restaurants and still arrive on time for bridge.
The tour to Valletta provided an opportunity to explore the beautiful Upper Barracca Gardens and St John’s Cathedral as well as the old town. Many returned to this fascinating city under their own steam for a second chance to walk the streets of this historic town.
Although it was windy on the day of the visit to Mdina and Mosta, the guide was so knowledgeable that the group asked if the tour could be extended. The peaceful, traffic free old capital Mdina was a firm favourite with its far-reaching views from the battlements.
Many chose to see the city using a pony and trap so that they could really soak up the medieval atmosphere.
Guests who ventured onto the Three Cities and Wine Tasting tour thoroughly enjoyed the wine tasting and despite having all-inclusive drinks on the holiday they purchased wines to take home.
The ferry service to Gozo transported clients to a slower paced, more old-fashioned part of Malta. The panoramic views from the citadel’s ramparts were breath taking in the warm winter sunshine.
The two-week break ended all too quickly with many wanting to sign up for 2020.
Director’s report by Terry Butler
This hand was bid to a good contract only once. What do you open with this hand? This is the first of many problems faced by South on Hand 19 of the Ladies and Mixed Pairs in Malta.
The most common advice recommends opening 1 Diamond with a strong two suited hand like this. This advice is usually clarified with – NEVER open two Clubs. So the auction goes:
Unsurprisingly, West gets busy with Spades and East with 4 cards is happy to bid to the level of the fit. Now what? Your second problem, do you continue with 4 Clubs. This hand is very good and more importantly has no great defence against Spades.
Clearly partner has something useful (possibly 4 cards) in Diamonds. Based on the bidding, they are also likely to hold 3 Spades. Your third problem, do you venture to 6 Diamonds? After all, if your opponents are bidding pre-emptively, even if you bid to a theoretically good slam you could easily fail because of bad breaks. Also, you do not have enough space to find your best fit or to determine whether or not slam is likely to be good. This was the deal:
Clearly 7 Diamonds is cast iron, but with the pressure being applied by East-West, finding even 6 Diamonds only occurred once. With many pairs playing in 5 Diamonds+2 by North-South, a better score could be had by letting East-West play in 4 Spades-2 doubled.
Finally, what would you have done with the North hand if all of this had been going on?
Please click on the images to see captions.