Host report by Barry & Maggie Watts
We all left home on a very wet and very gray day. Arriving in Paphos was a complete joy. The sun shone and temperatures rose every day. Breakfast by the pool and looking for shade in December! Swimming in the sea with water at air temperature; bliss.
The Athena Beach is a friendly 4 star hotel that that provides everything guests could want. The rooms are spacious and luxurious and the public rooms are well designed for relaxation and entertainment. The food in the three wonderful restaurants was excellent and two weeks wasn’t long enough to sample everything on offer.
The hotel has outstanding outdoor and indoor bowls facilities that are used for practice by the Cypriot national team. It is managed by qualified staff who help guests with advice on all aspects of the game. Complete beginners were given free coaching and established players were introduced to other players including local teams.
The sun continued to shine so afternoon bridge sessions dwindled as guests played bowls or sought out the sun beds and the beach. The hotel is set on the beach and well paved paths allowed us to walk into Paphos or explore the area around the hotel. This together with regular bus and taxi services meant that the whole area, with its outstanding archaeological sites and museums, was very accessible.
The large and comfortable bridge room was sunny with wonderful sea views by day and welcoming by night. The evening bridge sessions attracted full attendances and it soon became evident that the field of players was relatively evenly matched. This was made more interesting because guests were allowed to tailor their arrival and departure on this holiday to suit their Christmas and New Year arrangements. So just as we settled more people arrived. Then others left. Also there were more single players than usual so partnerships and allegiances were constantly changing. One pair even played in an afternoon session before leaving half way through to catch their plane. As they rose to leave, the quote of the holiday was: “Don’t worry, we’ll give you an average for the last two boards”.
After the Welcoming Pairs event on the first evening, First for Bridge holidays usually arrange a Random Teams event to mix and meet guests. This first teams event was won by Linda Williams, Anthony de Winton, Gerry Noonan and Richard Steadman.
The second teams event followed on Christmas Eve; it was held in the afternoon so we could all go to the Christmas Eve Gala Dinner. The Christmas Eve Teams was won by Stan and Angela Simmons teamed with Barbara Simia and Ros Joelson.
The result of the Championship Pairs is often predictable. Not this time. Two of the single guests, Caroline Marion and Sydney Hetherington, teamed up for the event. After the qualifying round they lay 7th but it was close with only 5% between them and the front runners. It remained close but they won the final by less than 1%.
The Swiss Pairs event on 29th December was won by Stan and Angela Simmons. (above) The final teams event held on the 2nd January was won by a considerable margin of 90 IMPs, over the second place 17 IMPs, by a team comprising Suzanne Freedman, Malcolm Lay,Gerry Noonan and Richard Steadman. Again all four had arrived as singles but found strength as a team.
Director report by Andrew Kambites
In the championship pairs finals after two passes you open 1♥ with the hand below. With your opponents silent your partner raises to 3♥. What do you do next?
Many of our guests in Cyprus tried Blackwood and found one ace (or one key card) opposite. What now?
Too late! You are already too high. You are unlikely to even make 5♥ because the full deal is:
OK. You are unlucky with the finesses, but 6♥ is a very poor contract. Is that surprising? You have a combined 28 points and no particularly exciting shape. It is very easy to get excited with the West hand after your 1♥ is raised to 3♥, but the excitement is really based on the fact that you would have raised 3♥ to 4♥ with 15 points (or 6 losers) and you are a full ace stronger than that. However if the best that West can do is open at the one level and East can only raise to 3♥, there are bound to be around 10 points missing, one quarter of the pack, and unless the hands fit perfectly slam is unlikely to be better than a finesse.
In my view you are highly unlikely to discover whether partner has the perfectly fitting cards for slam so there is a good case for West bidding a simple 4♥, particularly at pairs where the emphasis is on getting a sensible plus score. However if I cannot persuade you to abandon any hope of a slam, I can at least show you a way to show a mild slam interest without bypassing the safety of 4♥. West can cue bid 3♠ over 4♥. That shows the ♠A and it also alerts East to the fact that West is expressing interest in slam. East might take the view that as he has no side suit first round control he should bid 4♥ but in my opinion he can reasonably cue bid 4♦: he doesn’t have the ♦A but he does have the ace of trumps. West now continues with 4♥, and with no especially exciting holding East passes, giving this auction.
This auction is all about good judgement by both partners, rather than one asking the questions and unilaterally deciding the contract.
No doubt Gerber enthusiasts will point out that 4♣ would prevent the bidding from going above 4♥, but is West seriously going to ask for aces, find they are all present and then pass?
Blackwood after 1♥ P 3♥ P should only be used on hands with excellent shape which have been improved by finding a good fit, for example:
If partner shows two aces then you can bid 7♥. One ace opposite will give 6♥ good play.
The board was played 11 times. Six pairs failed in 6♥, usually by two tricks. Four pairs made +620 in 4♥. One pair managed somehow to rise to the giddy heights of 2♥ with 3 overtricks.