Host report by Barry & Maggie Watts:
We started our twin centre holiday in North Cyprus in the 5 star Lord’s Palace Hotel in Kyrenia. From this extreme comfort we explored North Cyprus which is considered the most beautiful half of the island. We visited the Five Finger mountain range: its rugged mountain top castles, olive groves, almond orchards, citrus gardens, carob trees and extensive forests. The trip to see Nicosia was a must. Visiting the city still divided by the dispute between Turkey and Greece offered the chance to explore some fascinating history all encompassed within the circular perimeter of the city walls.
The enchanting harbour in Kyrenia lured most of us at least once to sample one or more of the many restaurants. The food in the hotel was excellent but the short walk to Town and the alfresco harbourside dining was too good to miss.
After a week, our outstanding guide Engin loaded us into buses to change hotels. We made an excellent day trip of the transfer taking in central Famagusta and the ancient Roman Salamis City ruins before an excellent seaside lunch. Salamis, once a thriving Roman port is believed to have been the capital of Cyprus as far back as 1100 B.C. Its vast Roman gymnasium, baths, theatre and large arched tombs and columns were such a surprise, several guests visited it more than once.
Our new hotel, the Salamis Bay Conte, was a much larger, all inclusive, resort in a superb beach location so the bridge discussions were more protracted after each evening session; albeit less focused.
Salamis Bay Conte Hotel
As in The Lord’s Palace Hotel, the staff of the Salamis were welcoming and helpful, particularly in the Bridge room. The restaurant provided excellent food almost all day long and as the temperatures rose to an unseasonable 23 Deg C the dining spread to the extensive hotel terraces.
Famagusta encircled by massive historical walls, on average 60 feet high and 30 feet thick, dating back to the medieval times was another popular venue 10 minutes away by taxi; but more for the gorgeous cake and Turkish Delight shops than the antiquity.
The trips continued with a day out visiting the Karpaz Peninsula where the old Cypriot society and the landscape are preserved in the National Park. The trips were so successful our guide organised an extra trip to Kantara castle and nearby museums. The sun shone and there was lots to distract us from afternoon bridge. However, almost every evening session was attended by all and the competition was as keen as usual. The final of Championship Pairs held early in the first week was won by Sue Ozer and Anne Saunders. Sue and Anne then went on to win the Ladies Pairs in the second week.
Director’s report by Andrew Kambites:
This hand occurred in Kyrenia during the qualifying round for the championship pairs.
Most of our guests play either Benji Acol or three weak two bids, so I would expect South to open usually with a weak 2♠. West then has an obvious 4♥ overcall and although there is some risk involved North, knowing of at least a nine card spade fit, should bid 4♠. 4♠ could well make. If it fails it might be a good sacrifice against a making 4♥ (even at adverse vulnerability). Finally if 4♠ is theoretically wrong, some of the time opponents will rescue you by bidding to 5♥.
Suppose 4♠ is passed round to West. There is a right and a wrong way of looking at his decision.
Some Wests will argue that they cannot do worse than -300 in 5♥ doubled which is a good save against a vulnerable 4♠. This is true, but it leaves out one vital part of the argument, namely whether North/South can make 4♠. Effectively this is making a decision without consulting partner, which is damaging to partnership trust. It is this type of unilateral action that gives rise to the principle that after you pre-empt you should never volunteer another bid, unless partner invites or forces you to do so.
A more logical approach is to reason that your 4♥ pre-empt has forced opponents to guess, and if they have guessed wrongly you shouldn’t bail them out. Here this might be correct, but 4♠ does indeed make (with an overtrick as I will show below). I can understand West being reluctant to sell out to 4♠ undoubled, and this has led to an interesting idea among experts. After a pre-empt some top partnerships play ‘Action doubles’. Here West would double 4♠, conveying the message that he is stronger than he might be for 4♥ and feels that opponents should not play in 4♠ undoubled. If partner thinks 4♠ is going off he should pass the double, otherwise he should press on to 5♥. Fine in theory, but I certainly would not remove 4♠ doubled with the East hand. Action doubles are a clever idea, but they don’t always solve the problem. I don’t recommend that you play them.
So how should North/South get on in 4♠? It looks as though they have a loser in each side suit, but careful timing can lead to eleven tricks. South ruffs the second heart and leads a diamond towards dummy. The ♦K wins and now declarer successfully finesses the ♠Q. A second diamond towards dummy forces West to take his ♦A. West exits with a club but declarer wins the ♣A, finesses his ♠J, finishes drawing trumps with the ♠A, re-enters dummy with the ♣K and discards his two losing clubs on the ♦Q J.
There are two interesting points in the play.
- Although the diamonds seem pretty solid (North having the ♦K Q J) it pays to lead up to them rather than just lead them out. By doing so West’s ♦A collects only a loser, leaving dummy’s diamond honours for club discards.
- Although you must want to draw trumps quickly, particularly with the 4♥ pre-empt advertising likely bad breaks, here you are combining drawing trumps with setting up the diamonds. When you are in hand you lead a diamond towards dummy. When you are in dummy you finesse a trump.
At most tables East/West played in hearts. On only two occasions did North/South manage to buy the contract in spades.