Host report by Pauline & Nigel Durie:
Menorca is known world-wide for its endless beaches, nature reserves and turquoise waters. Pine trees fringe the coast and even in October wild flowers are abundant and add to the natural beauty of the island. More than four thousand years ago, the first humans arrived on the Mediterranean island of Menorca, the easternmost of the beautiful Balearic Islands. Menorca has an exceptional heritage, reflected in its 1,574 archaeological sites dotted around the island. It was declared a Reserve of the Biosphere by UNESCO in 1993, and it is currently a candidate to become a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The first week of the holiday was spent at La Quinta – a luxurious 5 star hotel close to Cala en Bosc with its lively marina lined with restaurants and bars. The hotel has a beautiful outdoor pool with a pool bar where we were treated to fresh fruit in the afternoons. The indoor spa offers a pool, jacuzzi, steam room and treatments and on the one day the weather was overcast this proved popular. The former island capital of Cuitadella boasts an impressive cathedral and harbour and is a short bus ride from the hotel. The narrow, old streets are occupied by artisan and designer shops that make a stroll through the city a memorable experience. Many guests staying at La Quinta took the opportunity to use either the hotel shuttle bus or the local bus to explore the area.
Our remaining two weeks were spent at the ever popular S’Algar resort hotel where staff that have been welcoming First For Bridge groups for many years were, as always, attentive to all our needs. With a distinctive style, characteristic of Menorca, this splendid hotel is located only 30 m from the sea, very close to the best beaches and bays on the island. The bridge room is large and comfortable looking out over one of the two large pools to the sea.
The capital of Menorca, Mahon, is on a bluff overlooking a large natural harbour, with Georgian mansions and a church with 13th-century roots. A glass bottom boat trip around the harbour took in the many impressive buildings that surround the harbour.
The optional tours offered during the holidays included a round the island tour taking in many of the sights not usually visited by tourists. A visit to Binibeca, a beautiful purpose built tourist village of white dwellings around cobbled streets, a visit to Monte Toro – the highest point on Menorca offered fabulous panoramic views of the island, a visit to the delightful fishing village of Fornells where the famous Menorca Seafood Stew can be enjoyed in one of the many picturesque restaurants and not to forget the visit to the Caves of Xoroi where steps take you down to a spectacular viewpoint overlooking the ocean.
A popular evening event was the gathering of bridge players in the outdoor bar terrace of the hotel to relax and enjoy a local gin and tonic whilst discussing the ups and downs of the bridge.
During this holiday we were fortunate to have Jacky Baker with us. Declan and Val from Arena Travel came out to S’Algar to present the inaugural Bob Baker trophy to the winners of the Championship Pairs. A sad occasion but a lovely way to honour the memory of such an important member of the First For Bridge team.
Director’s report by Nigel Durie:
The theme for the first two seminars in Menorca was “Supporting partner’s opening bid”. We looked at Jacoby 2NT and Splinter bids. As is often the case, you discuss a new system and then you do not use it for weeks, but once we had moved to S’Algar the following hand came up:
West has a very useful looking hand but does not want to bid some number of spades for fear of terminating the auction prematurely. He can use the Jacoby 2NT bid which shows a good raise to 3 of partner’s major (but can also be stronger, looking for slam). Here West’s hand fits the latter category with excellent trump support and 3 good controls, even though the hand may not have as many points as he would like.
In response to the 2NT East can raise spades to the appropriate level, but here East has 6 spades as well as a void and useful cards in the minors and hence can accept the invitation to game from West, while at the same time showing the void: a bid of a new suit at this stage shows a void and accepts the invitation to game, so –
Now West needs to show that he has a slam-going hand but a cue bid of 4♦ will only elicit a response of 4♠ so West might as well bid 4NT (Roman Key Card Blackwood) straight away. When East shows 2 key cards, ♠K and ♣A, West can bid the good slam in spades:
Now the question is whether West can aim for a top by making all 13 tricks when several declarers may be satisfied with just 12.
South does not have an attractive opening lead given the knowledge of East’s void and will probably lead a “safe” ♦2. The number of tricks now depends on the play of the club suit. The odds are in favour of West taking two finesses (first the 10 and then the Q) since the chance of both honours being with South is only 25%. But even this small chance of failure can be removed to guarantee a cold 12 tricks. West just draws trumps and eliminates both diamonds and hearts (by ruffing the 2 losing hearts and discarding a small club on the ♥A). He then finesses the ♣10. If South wins then he will be forced to give a ruff and discard in one of the red suits or will have to lead clubs towards the A Q.
As it turns out the finesse of the 10 holds so a spade back to hand allows the second finesse and 13 tricks.