Host report by Barry & Maggie Watts:
Some say the word idyll is derived from the Greek (eidullion). It is a short poem, a simple pleasure or a song. Rethymnom and the twin hotels, Agean Pearl and Pearl Beach, are as close as it gets to perfect for a bridge holiday. The two hotels operate as one, sharing all facilities. Between them a common mini-piazza serves as the main meeting place and a must for al-fresco dining and entertainment. Immediately outside the hotel is the private beach and the flat promenade to the old town; restaurants, supermarkets, shops, and close access to buses, taxis, chemist and banks. Of course it is much easier to visit the hotel spa, spend a lazy day in the sun served by the friendly hotel staff; idyllic.
The island of Crete lies in the Southern Aegean and is the southernmost part of Greece. It could be a country in its own right because it has a history and mythology all of its own. It could also have been part of Asia, Africa or Europe because geographically it is equidistant from all three. The Island has been occupied and its culture enriched by Byzantium, Venice, Rome and Turkey but its deepest roots lie in its Minoan culture which dates back to 6000 BC. The Minoans born of Zeus on Mount Ida ruled Crete for 1500 years enjoying their greatest prosperity between 1800 and 1600 BC. At this time they produced superb art works and wonderful artifacts that are so sophisticated that they would be admired if produced today.
They also created some of the worlds first written works more than 1600 years before the Romans invaded Britain. This intriguing mix of long history and mythology, beautiful landscapes and warm welcoming people makes Crete a place to visit more than once. We didn’t play much afternoon bridge, not surprising after long lunches in local restaurants then sunbathing in the glorious sunshine. There was far too much to see and do.
The most satisfying slams to bid are those where even before dummy goes down you can see from where the necessary tricks are coming rather than those where you count points. One particular type of slam can be bid with a considerable degree of certainty, often with far fewer points than the 33 suggested by textbooks. These are suit slams where you have good control cards (aces), a lot of trumps, and shape that allows cross ruffing. One particular conventional idea allows you to easily identify such slams: splinter bids.
Opposite a suit bid from partner a double jump in an unbid suit shows at least four card trump support and a singleton or void in the suit bid. This hand appeared in the Crete teams of four.
- 4♦ is a double jump. South is showing at least 4 hearts and a singleton or void diamond and values for game in hearts based on high cards (ie. 11+ points).
- North can see the ingredients for a slam on relatively few points. His two diamond losers will be covered by dummy’s singleton diamond. To use Blackwood North should know what he is looking for. For a grand slam he needs the ♣A, ♥K and two more black suit winners to cover his ♠5 and second club loser. Traditional theory states that it is bad practice to use Blackwood with two losers in a side suit, but there are good reasons for North to risk it here, even though he has two club losers. First it is highly unlikely that there are two club losers off the top. South must have his high card values somewhere, and they are not in diamonds. Can we construct a hand for South which leaves North/South with two immediate club losers? The hand below is possible but it is worth noting that even if you end up in 6♥ opposite this hand East needs to lead a club to beat you. Any other lead and both losing clubs disappears on the ♠Q J.
Second, if South has the perfect cards (the ♣A and three kings) it is possible to see 13 tricks and bid the grand slam. Other holdings for South (eg. the ♣A, ♥K and ♠K Q or ♣K Q will do just as well though these holdings will be harder to pin down. 4NT should be Roman Key Card Blackwood (RKCB), in which the four aces and the trump king are the key cards.
- If North/South are playing the 30/41 version of RKCB 5♦ shows one key card.
- North now knows that South has either the ♣A or ♥K. Since one of these key cards is missing North rules out a grand slam but it must be odds on that South has enough winners to cover the rest of North’s losers. Perhaps South has this hand so the slam is not laydown.
Slam certainly is not worse than the club finesse. Without a club lead declarer can try to ruff out the ♠Q and if that fails lead up to dummy’s clubs. Even with a club lead slam is likely to be better than 50%. East might solve declarer’s problems by cashing the ♣A. Alternatively if East leads a low club he is unlikely to hold the ♣A so North should only fail if West has both club honours.
Note that North cannot use 5NT to ask for kings because such an ask would tell South that all the key cards are present and that North is still interested in a grand slam.
Of course North can make all thirteen tricks because of the favourable trump position. On the night: 5 pairs bid and made 6♥ +1 while 4 pairs made 4♥ +3 and 3 pairs made 4♥ +2.
The evening bridge in the spacious and comfortable bridge room was attended by most guests every day of the holiday. We played the usual First for Bridge mix of swiss, teams and pairs events and the competition was as hot as usual. In the first week the Stockdales, Brian and Sheila and Rita playing with Annie Simmons took many of the honours but they only stayed seven days and in the second week nineteen new guests changed the dynamic. A great holiday, great hotel in a fabulous location, happy, helpful staff and lots of enjoyable evening bridge.
On the second night we played Random Teams. Gilly Carwithen, Angela Hall, Rita Stockdale and Annie Simmons were thrown together and won by 99 IMPs
Winners Random and Multiple Teams:
Left to Right:, Angela Hall, Annie Simmons, Nigel Durie (Director), Rita Stockdale, Gilly Carwithen
They decided, wisely, to stay together for the Multiple Teams event later in the holiday and won this time by a massive 121 IMPs. Practice makes perfect!
Brian and Sheila Stockdale then won the Swiss Pairs event just holding out in the final rounds from a last ditch surge by Tanawan and Derek Watts.
Winners Swiss Pairs :
Brian and Sheila Stockdale
Winners Championship Pairs:
Philip Norris and Meryl Sloma
Winners Consolation Pairs:
Left to Right: Carla Sidney-Woollett, Nigel Durie (Director), Cara Howard
Winners Ladies Pairs:
Left to Right: Ro Kaye, Nigel Durie (Director) Gilly Carwithen
Winners Championship Teams:
Back: Tony Yates and Brian Ping. Front: Angela Ping,Nigel Durie (Director), Kris Hughes