News from the Bridge Rooms in the Canary Islands

Lanzarote – H10 Rubicon Palace

Host report by Rob Richardson

Lanzarote is a volcanic island in the Atlantic not too far off the West Coast of Africa. The big attraction of this holiday was the weather. Daytime temperatures all fortnight were about 19C, roughly what you would expect on an English summer day. The Rubicon Palace is a five star hotel with lots of activity all day. More than one guest was a regular at the Pilates, even preferring them to Andrew’s seminars! I lost interest when I discovered that it wasn’t something served with chips.

Our happy band of holiday makers had the chance to undertake three guided tours on the island which included a visit to the picturesque North of the island, a winery and the top of an active volcano (not too active I’m glad to say). We also visited the former capital of Teguise on market day. En route we passed the house that Omar Sharif is reputed to have lost in a high stakes game of rubber bridge. I am happy to report that this did not unnerve any of our guests and the turn out at that night’s session was as good as ever.

Director’s report by Andrew Kambites

Beginners are taught in defence to cover an honour with an honour. The purpose is to promote hoped for intermediate cards in partner’s hand to winning status. However two hands from the championship pairs final show that this advice needs to be qualified.

5♦ by South should be two off, declarer losing a spade two hearts and a club. -300 is cheap if 4♠ makes but should 4♠ make? It all revolves around whether or not declarer can avoid two heart losers. At some stage declarer is likely to lead the ♥J from his dummy. If North covers the ♥J with the ♥K declarer can win the ♥A and lead back towards dummy’s ♥10. But suppose North holds back his ♥K. South wins the ♥Q and North now has the ♥K 9 sitting menacingly over West’s remaining ♥10. This ensures a second defensive heart trick. Clearly it is wrong for North to cover the ♥J here.

Now look at hand 13. Can declarer avoid a diamond loser and make a twelfth trick that is invaluable at duplicate pairs?

At some stage West is likely to lead the ♦Q from dummy. If South covers with the ♦K then declarer wins his ♦A and leads a diamond back towards dummy’s remaining ♦J 9. The ♦10 pops up. Declarer cannot go wrong.

Now look what happens if South allows the ♦Q to win. Declarer can succeed by continuing with dummy’s ♦J, pinning North’s doubleton ♦10. But that is not the only possible line of play for declarer. He can also play for South to have started with the doubleton ♦K by cashing the ♦A. At least he has a losing option if South doesn’t cover the ♦Q.

What these two examples have in common is that dummy leads an honour when there is still another touching honour. If hand 6 dummy leads the ♥J from ♥J 10. In hand 13 dummy leads the ♦Q from ♦Q J. It is rarely right for a defender to cover the first of touching honours. In both cases the defender should keep his higher honour to cover the last of the touching honours.

Such advice also protects defenders in layouts like this.

South (declarer) needs to find the ♥Q. He leads the ♥J from the hidden hand. If West doesn’t cover declarer intends to overtake with dummy’s ♥A and finesse East for the ♥Q. A naïve West who covers the ♥J with the ♥Q or dithers before playing low, solves declarer’s problems.

Prize Winners

Click to view and see names.

Fuerteventura – Barcelo Fuerteventura Thalasso Spa Hotel

Host report by Barry & Maggie Watts and Jacky Baker

We had a wonderful holiday in the Hotel Barceló Fuerteventura Thalasso Spa which is a large hotel resort in the settlement of Caleta de Fuste. It is a relatively new purpose-built holiday resort on the sheltered Eastern coast, just 7km from the airport and close to the Island’s capital, Puerto del Rosario. The great feature of the holiday is this modern hotel with its happy and welcoming staff. It is possible to just stay in the hotel for the whole holiday and just enjoy all the facilities. The more adventurous soon found that the resort has many shops and restaurants, good bus links and cheap car hire so it is a great base from which to explore the island.

As the plane arrives over the Island, only the golf courses offer green splashes of colour in an otherwise arid desert landscape of long eroded volcanic lava rock and ash. It is desert, like the Sahara, only 100km to the East, but the beaches of Fuerteventura are spectacular and extensive, often forming impressive dunes. They are the major asset to the relatively young tourist industry on the Island, offering every kind of water sport but also beautiful solitude for those who seek it.

From the hotel we all enjoyed walking along the promenades. There was no shortage of shops and restaurants for leisurely lunches and the sun shone obligingly at midday most days. A favourite pastime for the daily walk was feeding the Barbary Ground Squirrels (often mistaken for Chipmunks) that live amongst the rocks on the beaches.

Many of us toured the Island on guided trips to enjoy its history, its culture and its awe-inspiring landscapes. The colours were mostly browns, but many shades of browns interspersed with lush tropical vegetation where ground or artesian water sources could be found.

The days were warm so most afternoons the bridge was forgotten in favour of trips out and sunbathing. The temperatures dropped in the evenings so attention turned to excellent meals in the very well-presented buffet restaurant and then to evening bridge.

Our two weeks in the Hotel Barceló were a continuation of a two-centre holiday that started in Lanzarote. The group from Lanzarote arrived first by ferry, followed by new guests from UK. We then had over 15 tables for the first week and more than 10 for most of the second week.

In the spacious and comfortable Bridge Room the usual First for Bridge programme was as popular as usual; probably more so due to the generosity of the wine waiters in the restaurant!

Director’s report by Andrew Kambites

This was hand 21 from the Fuerteventura championship pairs final.

South has a pretty awful 20 points (4-3-3-3 and no intermediates) but most players would choose to open 2NT, leading to this auction unless North chooses to use 3♣ as 5-card Stayman, hoping for a 5-3 heart fit.

West leads the ♠7 to East’s ♠J. Which card should declarer play? As a defender if South chose to lead from a holding of ♠K Q 3 he would start with the ♠K (promising the ♠Q). If North was on lead and led a spade South would play the ♠Q (lower of touching honours, denying the ♠J). The reason in both cases is that this policy passes maximum information between the defenders.

But here South is declarer. He doesn’t have a partner so his policy should be governed by creating least certainly between the defenders. If he wins with the ♠Q then West will know South has the ♠K because with ♠K J East would have played the ♠K rather than the ♠J. (Third hand high). But if South correctly wins with the ♠K West is left in doubt who has the ♠Q. Declarer should generally win with the higher of touching honours.

Now declarer needs to concentrate on making sure East does not get the lead. East is the dangerous hand, capable of leading a spade through declarer’s remaining ♠Q 3. West is the safe hand because West cannot lead another spade without gifting declarer a second spade stopper.

The obvious way ahead now is for declarer to take the heart finesse. Perhaps he cashes the ♣K Q, enters dummy with the ♣A and takes his ♣10. Maybe West discards two hearts. Declarer now successfully finesses the ♥Q. He now has 9 tricks: the ♠K, ♥A Q, ♦A K and four clubs. But being pairs he should not be satisfied with nine tricks. Might the diamond suit provide an extra trick without letting East gain the lead? The most promising play is for declarer to try to lead diamonds through West, ducking if the ♦Q appears. Maybe he cashes the ♦A and continues with the ♦2. Hey presto West produces the ♦Q and declarer allows it to hold the trick. Now declarer has a third diamond trick (ten altogether) and if in desperation West plays another spade that is an eleventh trick for declarer.

But hold on! Suppose West jettisons the ♦Q under the ♦A. After all, it won’t be much use as dummy’s ♦K will surely swallow it up on the next trick. Now declarer cannot develop a tenth trick without letting East in.

Prize Winners

Click to view and see names.

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