News from the Bridge Room in Cyprus

Host Report by Jacky Baker

Our holiday in Cyprus in the superb Athena Royal Beach Hotel lived up to all expectations. We have been coming here for a few years now and always get a very warm welcome from the staff, who cannot do enough for you. Good weather, great hotel, good food and good company – what more could you want!

The hotel is situated on a level promenade which runs all the way into Paphos harbour, and there is also a regular, inexpensive bus service which stops just outside our hotel.

The guests also enjoyed the many additional activities on offer, including putting, crazy golf, aqua aerobics, cycling, table tennis and of course our programme of bowling, which consisted of seven free sessions over the fortnight.

There were several excursions available and we had one, exclusive to our group, which took in many of the principal sights of the island.

Our thanks to Pauline Durie, the other member of our team on this occasion, who was a cheerful presence in the bridge room and extremely helpful , and once again to the hotel. We look forward to returning next year.

Director Report by Bob Baker

“When fourth highest won’t do”

Most players are aware of the standard leads, whether defending against a suit or a no trump contract: top of a sequence, fourth highest from a suit with an honour and second best from a suit with no honours (what I refer to as a “dishonourable” suit).

However, these guidelines are for the opening lead, and later in the hand it may be necessary to find a lead that has little to do with these standard leads.

One such situation is what is called a “surround” play. A typical example is:

At some stage in the play East, defending, decides that it is necessary to attack the heart suit. If he were selecting an opening lead from the suit then he would choose ♥7 – his fourth highest. However, in this particular position leading ♥7 would allow declarer to play low from his hand, guaranteeing himself a stop (and a trick) in the suit. To avoid this, the correct card to lead is the ♥J – this allows the defence to make three tricks in the suit (four at no trumps) without declarer winning a trick at all.

Another time when a non-standard lead is indicated is when dummy has a singleton honour, as in this position:

Once again, if East leads this suit he needs to forget about “fourth highest” and lead his ♥Q, again ensuring four tricks for the defence at no trumps whilst giving declarer no tricks in the suit.

A related situation arose in the following hand from our Swiss Teams event:

At most tables the bidding started with a 1♦ opening bid by North and a 2♣ response from South. After a 2NT rebid by North was raised to 3NT the popular choice of opening lead was ♥6 and declarer had no trouble in making twelve tricks.

However, one intrepid soul, after South’s 2♣ response, ventured an overcall of 2♠ on the West hand. North still rebid 2NT and again was raised to 3NT by South, but this time East led ♠10, his partner’s suit.

West won trick one with ♠A and reasoned that declarer probably had seven club tricks – either he had ♣K or his partner would lose the card to a successful finesse in the suit. It was clear from the opening lead that declarer had three or four spades with the king, so there was little point in continuing the suit, and West decided to switch. As declarer had opened 1♦ it was likely that, with ♦K in dummy, there were few tricks available in that suit, so West chose to switch to a heart – but not the standard fourth highest ♥2.

Should West lead ♥2 declarer could play low from hand and be assured of a stop in the suit. With dummy holding ♥105 it was essential that West switched to ♥J – this gave the defence four tricks in the suit and defeated the contract by one trick. Bold bidding by West and an accurate defence earned a deserved game swing on the board.

Prize Winners

Random Teams: Anne Saunders, Michael Owen, Joy Allington & Sue Ozer

Swiss Pairs: Amanda Barnes & John Hirons

Swiss Teams: Richard Tyler, Sheila Peers, Ann McMahon & Angie Fisher

Championship Teams: Frances Allwork, Amanda Barnes, John Hirons & Val North

Consolation Pairs: Val North & Frances Allwork

Championship Pairs: Anne Saunders & Michael Owen